Diverticular Disease
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The condition that affects the large bowel or colon is called the diverticular disease. This is generally considered as caused by eating too little fibers. The real name for the disease is diverticulosis, which is very uncommon. But however uncommon the name seems to be, the disease is a common one all over the world.

Diverticulosis, popularly termed as diverticular disease, is the presence of diverticula in the colon. Diverticulas are formation of pockets of the colonic mucosa and submucosa through the weaknesses of the muscle layers in the wall of the colon. These phenomenons are more common in the sigmoid colon, since the sigmoid colon is a common place for increased pressure. This disease generally occurs after the age of 40 years.

Diverticula infection, in most probability, is caused by an impacted piece of faeces. This leads to the inflammation and severe pain in the lower left side of the abdomen.

This disease is very common in the Western countries where fiber intake is less. Likewise, in Africa, where the diet consists of lots of fibers, this is uncommon. Generally this disease affects adults, be it men or women.

Diverticular Disease Causes

The most important cause that triggers off diverticular disease is low intake of fiber containing foods for a prolonged period of time. It has been estimated that over a lifetime, a human gut digests more than 65 tones of food and drink. If much of this food is low in fiber, the gut will be under strain.

A low fiber diet creates constipation. As a result of this, the pressure increases in the large part of the gut. This causes the lining of the gut to form small balloon-like pouches or pockets that are termed as called diverticula. Diverticular disease is caused through the increase in pressure in the lumen of the colon. This increased intra colonic pressures leads to the weakening of the walls of the colon causing diverticular disease.

A colonic spasm is another cause for diverticular disease. This increases pressure, which may be due to dehydration, or low-fiber diets, or even constipation. Since fiber causes stools to retain water and softens them making it easy to pass, a low-fiber diet hampers this process leading to retention of stool and constipation. Both can trigger off diverticular disease.

Therefore the risk factors behind diverticualr disease affectation can be categorized as follows:

Diet low in fiber content

Diet high in fat

Increasing age

Constipation

Connective tissue disorders that might weaken the colon wall (such as Marfan syndrome).

Diverticular Disease Symptoms

Some of the major symptoms of diverticular disease are as follows:

episodic cramping, specially after meals

abdominal pain, mainly in the left lower abdomen

bleeding

nausea

bloating and excess wind

change in normal bowel patterns

constipation or diarrhoea, or both occurring alternately

Diagnosis

Since diverticular disease generally do not show much symptom at an early stage, they are generally diagnosed as a result of chance discovery during some other tests.

Colonoscopy is the most used test for diagnosis of this disease. Abdominal X-ray, barium enema, CT, or MRI are some of the other tests.

Diverticular Disease Treatment

 Since the symptoms are common with those of constipation, this disease is often detected at a later stage. Immediate treatment is needed as this can even lead to colon canmcer. Generally medication and proper diet can cure diverticular disease, but if the inflammation is too serious then surgery is needed.

Other recommendations are:

Antispasmodic medication

peppermint tea

painkillers

antibiotics

laxatives

dietary advice

Advice

The advice for precaution is as follows:

Increase the amount of fiber in diet

Increasing fluid consumption

Exercise

Avoiding food like nuts, popcorn hulls, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, caraway seeds, and sesame seeds, as specified by the NIDDK as problem foods

Treatments like some colon cleansers are also advised.

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