Experiencing any issues with your digestive tract can be painful, distracting, and worrisome. It’s hard to concentrate on a task at hand when you feel like you have to run to the bathroom every couple of minutes, or if when you do, you have a difficult time with bowel movements.
Such is the case with diverticulosis. What is it? How do you know if you have it? What can you do to treat it?
What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is the medical term for when a person develops pockets within the walls of their large intestine (the colon). They occur when the inner lining of the intestine pushes against the weakest parts of the outer layer of the intestine. As a result, your digestive tract ends up with several pouches called diverticula. This condition should not be confused with diverticulitis, which is the medical term for when diverticulosis pockets become infected. Diverticulitis becomes inflamed or infected when particles of food get stuck in them due to their inability to be eliminated by the body from their enclosed position.
Causes of Diverticulosis
Although the cause of diverticulosis isn’t known, there are several factors that could increase the likelihood of developing the condition. These include not eating enough fiber and/or straining during bowel movements because of constipation.
Not eating enough fiber makes stools harder to pass, which makes constipation much more likely. In addition, hard stools stay in the colon for much longer, adding pressure to the intestinal walls.
Symptoms of Diverticulosis
Most people with diverticulosis don’t experience any symptoms. This is why it’s important to always seek medical advice if you often suffer from constipation, as this could cause diverticula to become inflamed or infected, developing into diverticulitis. Symptoms of diverticulitis include
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal cramping
- Abdominal tenderness
It’s also possible for a person to live with diverticulosis for years without knowing they have the condition.
Risk Factors for Developing Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis happens most often in people over 60 years of age. In addition, other risk factors include:
- Peptic ulcers
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Eating a diet high in red meat and fat
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Long-term use of certain medications
Since it’s common for people with diverticulosis to not experience any symptoms, the diverticula are often discovered when the patient gets a routine colonoscopy or X-Rays for something else. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will likely recommend blood testing or a CT scan.
Treatment for Diverticulosis
Treatment includes increasing your fiber intake through your diet. You’ll also need to stay hydrated and ingest foods with probiotics, such as yogurt, tempeh, kombucha, or sauerkraut. It’s also crucial to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, and possibly take a fiber supplement.
If You Believe You May Have Diverticular Disease, Let Us Help You
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with more than 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us today to explore your options and discuss how we can help you.