Diverticulitis is infection or inflammation of the small pouches or diverticula that commonly develop along the walls of the intestine. The formation of the pouches is a benign condition known as diverticulosis, but when infection sets in, the results can range from an abscess in individual pouches to widespread infection or perforation if the bowel.
While diverticulitis can occur anywhere in the intestinal tract, infection most often occurs at the end of the descending and sigmoid colons located on the left side of the abdomen. In people of Asian descent, right side pain is more common, Diverticulitis can develop in the first section of the small intestine, but seldom causes discomfort.
SYMPTOMS OF DIVERTICULOSIS
Diverticulitis can be chronic with periodic distress or acute with severe attacks. The symptoms, often found in patients over 50, may include:
- Cramping in the left side of the abdomen
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bright red blood in the stools
- Changes in bowel habits, including constipation or diarrhea
- Fever, nausea, and vomiting
Even benign diverticulosis can lead to bloody stools or abdominal cramping, but this condition may be temporarily relieved by passing gas or having a bowel movement.
DIAGNOSING AND TREATING DIVERTICULITIS
If you have these symptoms, your doctor can determine whether you have diverticulitis or another condition. Common testing includes blood and urine tests, stool tests, liver enzyme tests, and CT scan to identity inflamed pouches or the presence of other problems such as a bowel obstruction or fistula.
For mild cases, Dr. Asgeri at Oasis Advanced Gastroenterology may prescribe antibiotics, over the counter pain relievers, rest, and a liquid diet for a few days. Severe symptoms may indicate the presence of a bowel abscess, obstruction, or fistula that requires antibiotics or surgery to remove diseased parts of your intestine (bowel resection). In severe cases, you may even need a temporary or permanent colostomy to collect waste.
Preventing and managing diverticular diseases is tied to diets rich in high-fiber foods. Older dietary wisdom suggested that you should avoid nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn that could lodge in intestinal pouches, but there is no scientific evidence to support these restrictions.
SCHEDULE DIVERTICULITIS TESTING AT OASIS ADVANCED GASTROENTEROLOGY
Diverticulitis can be painful, but determining your condition may require testing. If you have intestinal pain and changes in bathroom habits, contact Oasis Advanced Gastroenterology in Palm Springs to schedule diverticulitis testing with Dr. Asgeri.
Request an appointment online or call 760-699-7607.