Diverticulitis is a painful condition that affects your intestines and stool. It’s fairly common in the US – about 30% of the adult population and 70% of the elderly have diverticulitis symptoms. The staggering numbers of this disease are owed to poor lifestyle choices.
Thankfully, this condition isn’t a life-threatening disease or leads to serious complications. Nevertheless, it does require immediate treatment and you might even be hospitalized at some point if needed.
In this blog, you’ll discover the signs, causes, complications, prevention tips, and the best diet for diverticulitis.
What is Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis is an infection that causes small bulging sac-like structures on the intestinal wall called diverticula. The one suffering from this disease is said to have diverticulosis. If these sacs become infected, it turns to diverticulitis.
These pouches can grow anywhere in the intestines but mostly develop near the colon. More often it leads to changed bowel movements.
It is more common in men than women. The cases are generally higher in the male population aged 50 years or less. In females, diverticulitis mostly occurs at 70 years and beyond.
Interestingly, this disease is more prevalent in the right side of the abdomen among Asians whereas it’s common on the left side in Western countries.
A 2018 study published in Inflammatory Intestinal Diseases links this difference to environmental, dietary habits, gut flora, and congenital factors.
Sometimes this condition is mild but other times it could take a severe form. Luckily, diverticula aren’t harmful but you will experience stabbing pain and inflammation in the abdomen.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
You may suffer from it without knowing. The symptoms of diverticulitis are often worse in the morning. However, they get better once you pass gas.
Following are the signs of diverticulitis you need to watch out for:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Blood or mucus in poop
- Red, black, or maroon stool color
Many times, there’s an incorrect diagnosis of diverticulitis or it’s mistaken as another condition. For example, the symptoms of diverticulitis mimic those of appendicitis, ovary cysts, appendagitis, ureteral stones, and more.
In any case, the most plausible thing to do is consult a doctor so they can identify the main source of pain.
Causes of Diverticulitis
Your lifestyle plays an integral role. Various unhealthy habits including your diet can cause adverse symptoms of this infection.
One of the most common causes of diverticulitis is age. According to 2018 research published in Acta Biomedica, the high rate of diverticulitis is mostly observed in patients who are aged 70 years or older.
Smokers and drinkers are also susceptible to diverticulitis. Scientists linked smoking and drinking activities to an increased incidence of diverticulitis in a 2013 PLoS research.
Moreover, if you’re not physically active, it could also lead to this infection. Obese people often experience severe intestinal infections that mess up the bowels.
Your diet matters as well. Do you consume junk foods more than fiber-rich meals? It could be an underlying cause of diverticulitis attack.
Complications Caused by Diverticulitis
Although diverticulitis isn’t a life-threatening condition, it’s still quite painful are requires immediate relief.
If you don’t get timely treatment, you might develop complications that worsen the symptoms.
At times, pus fills up the sacs and leads to abscessions. It requires radiation or surgery to drain the fluids especially if the sacs become huge. You will also be prescribed antibiotics.
Another thing you might have to deal with is rectal bleeding. Diverticulitis could cause sudden bleeding from the rectum with blood clots. The blood is bright red, there’s rarely any pain, and the bleeding often stops after some time.
Sometimes, this infection could scar your intestines, rectum, or colon and cause hindrance in passing stools.
It’s also possible diverticulitis creates an abnormal passage between certain organs to pass the bowels. This is known as a fistula. In women, there may be a pathway between vagina and colon while in men, there’s a passage between colon and bladder.
Best Foods to Eat for Diverticulitis
Besides getting the antibiotic treatment, radiation, or surgery, as recommended by your healthcare professional, you must also follow a strict diet to treat diverticulitis symptoms.
The good news is that there isn’t a huge list of foods to avoid. Initially, doctors were against certain foods like popcorn, seeds, and nuts in danger of flare-ups. But that claim doesn’t hold valid anymore.
- 1 Pineapple including the core
- 3 Pears
- 1 Cucumber
- 1 inch Ginger
Let’s go through some beneficial foods to eat for diverticulitis:
Whole wheat foods: Whether you want to eat rice, bread, or pasta, always choose the ones with high-fiber content. This will prevent the risk of constipation and diarrhea and promote better digestion.
Whole grain cereals: Of course, eating sugary cereals would only make it worse. Start your mornings with a healthy bowl of whole-grain cereals such as bran, barley, and oatmeal. They are rich in essential nutrients to energize, initiate good metabolism, and prevent digestive issues.
Chickpeas and beans: You should also add certain legumes to your diet that are brimming with high fiber content. This includes red kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, black beans, navy beans, and chickpeas. You can either eat them raw as a salad or add them to your curries for dinner along with brown rice.
Yogurt: Probiotics are ideal to manage healthy digestion and improve gut bacterial growth. Select low-fat yogurt for your breakfast meals and enjoy a healthy pain-free day.
Fruits: Various hydrating fruits such as melon, bananas, peaches, pears, apples, etc., are amazing for treating this diverticulitis’ symptoms. Take them early in the morning as they are rich in fiber and would help you pass stool easily.
Vegetables: Cooked squash, potatoes, and green peas are must-have foods to get rid of diverticulitis symptoms naturally at home.
We hope this article provides you with healthy tips on tackling diverticulitis at home without complicating the disease further.
If you wish to recover fast, pay attention to what you eat, quit unhealthy habits, and get moving right away.
You’ll notice the pain will disappear along with all the signs of diverticulitis in no time