A diverticulum is an alveolar sac that forms on the outside of the walls of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. It most often occurs in the large intestine, and it is said to be well formed in the right colon. Diverticulum is divided into true diverticulum and pseudo diverticulum depending on whether the wall of the diverticulum consists of the entire wall of the large intestine or the muscle layer is excluded. When multiple diverticulum is formed, it is called diverticulosis, and such diverticulosis often does not cause obvious symptoms, and even if it is formed, it is known that not all of them cause problems. However, if feces or food debris sticks into the diverticulum of the large intestine, it can cause colonic diverticulitis, which is inflamed. Such colonic diverticulitis is said to occur in about 15% of people with diverticulosis, and in severe cases, it is known that it can cause perforation of the diverticulum or cause various complications such as intestinal obstruction and peritonitis.
The main cause of colonic diverticulitis is congenital diverticulitis, and it is known that it is caused by acquired factors. A high-fat, high-protein diet centered on meat for a long time, frequent constipation caused by insufficient fiber intake increases the pressure of the large intestine, and excessive segmental movement has a significant impact on the occurrence of diverticulosis. It is also said that one of the factors that causes the occurrence is the deterioration of the intestinal function due to aging due to the increase in age. Depending on the cause of these occurrences, it is known to occur more frequently in people over the age of 45 and those who are overweight. And in the past, there were many outbreaks in Western countries such as the United States and Europe, but recently, in Korea, too, the incidence is increasing due to various factors such as westernized eating habits and an increase in the elderly population, and the number is increasing every year. . Now, let’s learn more about the main symptoms of colonic diverticulitis, as well as various information about treatment and prevention.
The main symptoms of colonic diverticulitis
The initial symptoms of colonic diverticulitis are mild abdominal pain and low fever. As the symptoms worsen, the intensity of the pain increases. These abdominal pain symptoms have the characteristic that the part where the pain occurs varies depending on the location of the diverticulitis. In addition, symptoms such as loss of appetite, chills, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting may appear, and bowel habits may change to an irregular shape or may be accompanied by symptoms such as diarrhea. Many of these symptoms may worsen depending on the severity of the inflammation. In addition, bleeding may occur in areas with severe diverticulitis, which may result in bloody stools mixed with blood in the stool.
If the symptoms of diverticulitis become more severe, complications such as perforation of the diverticulum and peritonitis and intestinal obstruction may occur. Especially when the symptoms of peritonitis worsen, it can have life-threatening and fatal consequences. Bleeding in areas with severe diverticulitis can also lead to massive bleeding, which can lead to serious situations. Therefore, if various symptoms suggestive of diverticulitis occur, it is better to visit a hospital and proceed with early treatment. In particular, since it is difficult to distinguish right colonic diverticulitis because its symptoms and imaging findings are similar to those of acute appendicitis, it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis procedure through a professional clinical picture and examination.
Colonic diverticulitis treatment and prevention
1. Treatment based on various tests and diagnosis results
Colonic diverticulitis is diagnosed accurately by synthesizing the clinical picture and various tests such as abdominal ultrasound and CT. Afterwards, depending on the diagnosis result, in the initial stage without symptoms of complications, conservative treatment centered on diet improvement, fluid supply, and oral antibiotic administration is performed as an outpatient. However, surgery should be considered if symptoms do not improve with these conservative treatments or if symptoms recur frequently. In particular, if complications such as abscess and perforation around the colon, peritonitis, intestinal obstruction occur, and bleeding that requires massive transfusion, surgical treatment should be performed. And even after recovery through these various treatments, it is important to check for inflammatory bowel disease by performing a colonoscopy after a certain period of time has elapsed.
2. Eat foods rich in fiber
The most important thing to prevent and improve symptoms of colon diverticulitis is to eat a balanced diet rich in dietary fiber. When a high-fiber diet containing 15-20 g of dietary fiber per day is implemented, it is known to be effective in reducing intestinal pressure by activating bowel movements to facilitate bowel movements. Fruits such as apples, bananas, peaches, tangerines, and pears, vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and pumpkins, legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, brown rice, and rice bran are foods rich in dietary fiber. It is recommended to consume it regularly.
3. Good bowel habits
Maintaining a regular bowel movement habit that does not strain the intestine is also very important in preventing colon diverticulitis. In addition, drinking 7-8 glasses of water a day provides sufficient moisture to the large intestine, reducing constipation that causes pressure in the large intestine, thereby helping to prevent colon diverticulitis.
On the other hand, excessive intake of meat, processed foods, processed meats, and instant foods is the main factor that causes constipation and increases pressure in the large intestine, so it is important to control intake. In addition, coffee, alcohol, and tobacco are also factors that impede the normal movement of the colon, so it is recommended to reduce and limit it.