Diverticulosis vs Diverticulitis They Are Not the Same
Sometimes patients think these two gastrointestinal conditions are the same, Diverticulosis vs Diverticulitis. They are not the same but are related. Diverticulosis consists of small, bulging pouches that develop in your digestive system. When one or more of them become inflamed or infected you then have diverticulitis. Studies show than more than 200,000 patients develop the latter each year.
The definitive cause of diverticulitis is relatively unknown. The pouches form in weak places in your colon when there is pressure on them. They then tear resulting in inflammation or infection or both. The condition is more common in people who have a low fiber diet. The condition is not life threatening; however, it can be quite painful. Here are some facts:
- The pouches (diverticula) are more common in people over age 40
- Eating a low fiber diet is risky and may lead to the condition
- The risk for this condition to form increases with smoking tobacco
- Lack of regular exercise is a contributing factor
- Those who are obese are more likely to develop diverticulitis
You need to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of diverticulitis for early detection.
Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis
There are a number of common signs and symptoms of this condition to watch for. There seems to be no middle ground – either patients suffer from excessive diarrhea or a lot of constipation. Many report they were not correctly diagnosed before finding the real cause of their discomfort. Document your symptoms as they occur for our specialists at Digestive Medicine Associates so we will be in a better situation to help you. Symptoms include:
- Digestive issues such as excessive diarrhea or high levels of constipation
- Persistent pain in the stomach is obvious
- A fever that accompanies infection – can become serious
- Excessive gas and bloating that causes pain
- Tenderness in the abdominal area due to inflammation
- Loss of appetite for food and drinks
- Nausea and vomiting that can be mistake for flu
- Constipation can cause blood in the rectum
- Painful and frequent urination
- When unattended this condition can cause infection all across the abdominal cavity
The occurrence of diverticulitis increases with age. Certain medications such as steroids, opiates and anti-inflammatory drugs may increase the risk of inflammation or infection. See your doctor right away if one or more of these symptoms persist for more than two days.
Beware of Complications
Most people with diverticulitis do not develop complications. It is sad that about 1 in 4 that have it in an acute form do develop some complications. They can include a blockage of the large or small intestine. Some people have one or more abscesses. Others develop an abnormal passageway between the bowel and bladder. Worse yet, a few people experience inflamed pouch ruptures that spill contents from the intestines into the abdominal cavity. This condition, peritonitis, is serious and requires immediate emergency medical attention.
Tests and Treatment for the Condition
Diverticulitis is generally diagnosed during an acute attack. Your doctor will start with a physical exam and ask questions about your personal and family medical history. These tests follow:
- To check for signs of infection the doctor will run blood and urine tests
- Liver function tests will determine other possible causes
- A stool test
- A CT scan
- Pregnancy tests
The treatment you receive will depend on the seriousness of your case.
Mild symptoms may be treated at home under the direction of one of our specialists. Simple treatment can include antibiotics, short-term liquid diet, and pain relievers. More severe cases may need intravenous antibiotics in the hospital or draining an abscess or even surgery.
Follow-up care may necessitate a colonoscopy as well as doctor visits for progress reports. Our specialists at Digestive Medicine Associates have the experience and training to treat your diverticulosis and/or diverticulitis successfully. Start with a referral from your family physician and make an appointment at one of our clinics.