Some people have small pouches (diverticula) in the lining of the large intestine. These pouches bulge outward through weak spots in the lining. Someone who has these pouches is known to have diverticulosis. When diverticula become inflamed, the condition is known as diverticulitis. Approximately ten to 25 percent of people who have diverticulosis develop diverticulitis, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
The symptoms of diverticulitis vary based on the patient and the severity of the condition. Upon examination, someone with this condition usually has tenderness in the lower left quadrant of the abdomen. This pain fluctuates in intensity and severity, and may be accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, cramping, and changes in bowel habits. Once diagnosed, patients with diverticulitis must take care to manage their diverticulitis properly, as this condition can lead to colon blockages or perforations.
Foods to Avoid with Diverticulitis
In the past, doctors advised people with diverticulitis to avoid foods that contained nuts, seeds, or other small particles. Dr. Michael Picco, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, reports that no scientific evidence backs up claims that avoiding these foods will improve diverticulitis. If you find that some foods trigger your diverticulitis attacks, avoid them to reduce pain and inflammation. Avoid poppy seeds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds, as well as foods that contain sesame seeds. Peanuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews can get trapped inside the diverticula, causing intense pain. You should also avoid fruits and vegetables that contain tiny seeds, such as blackberries, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumber, and zucchini. If you want to avoid inflammation in the digestive tract, avoid spicy foods made with heavy tomato sauces and spices.
Researchers believe that a diet low in fiber contributes to the development of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. To reduce your symptoms and eliminate diverticulitis attacks, add fiber to your diet in the form of nutritious foods from the whole grain, fruit and vegetable groups. Try whole-grain cereal, navy beans, kidney beans or black beans. Create salads with high-fiber vegetables such as sweet potato (with skin), cauliflower, winter squash and spinach. High-fiber fruits include apples, pears, and raspberries.
Once inflammation and irritation of the colon occur, treatment focuses on reducing these symptoms and preventing diverticulitis complications. Bed rest, pain relief medications and oral antibiotics may help achieve these goals. Your doctor may also advise you to follow a liquid diet to give the digestive system a chance to recuperate. If your diverticulitis is severe, your doctor will admit you to the hospital for intravenous antibiotic treatment.
Your doctor may advise surgical intervention if your diverticulitis attacks are frequent or severe. During this procedure, a surgeon removes the affected portion of the colon and joins the remaining sections of the colon together. Your doctor may also advise surgery for any diverticulitis complications, such as intestinal obstructions or fistulas.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis - https://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diverticulosis/
Mayo Clinic: Diverticulitis Diet: Should I Avoid Nuts and Seeds? - https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diverticulitis-diet/an01255