Diverticulosis is where diverticula or pockets form throughout the walls of the digestive tract. These diverticula will push through the outer lining due to the walls being weak. Natural pressure will make the walls bulge and cause pockets. Typically, the lower part of the large intestine is affected by this condition. Diverticulosis is commonly seen in people that are over the age of 60. It is rare to see a person under the age of 30 with this condition. Men are more commonly affected by this condition than women. If a person has a family member with diverticulosis, they are more at risk for the condition due to genetics playing a large role. When a person has diverticulosis, they are at risk for developing diverticulitis, which is a painful inflammation of the pockets.
Causes of Diverticulosis
Doctors are not quite sure what causes diverticulosis. They have been unable to point to a single cause, but it is thought that the following helps to create the pockets:
- Obesity - People that have a high body mass index are more likely to get this condition. This may be due to muscle strain because of extra weight.
- Aging - The older a person gets, the weaker the outer lining of the intestine is.
- Straining - If a person strains to go to the bathroom, this may cause the pockets to form.
- Low fiber diet - Having a low fiber diet may lead to diverticulosis.
- Medications - It is thought that medications like anti-inflammatories may pose a risk for this condition.
Symptoms of Diverticulosis
Some people with this condition do not experience symptoms at all. They may not know they have it until they develop diverticulitis Por another condition. People that do experience symptoms have the following:
- Belly pain and cramping
These symptoms may come and go and be mild to severe. If a person has any of these symptoms, they will need to make a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. The doctor will do several tests to see what is going on. Conditions like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome will need to be ruled out. The doctor may prescribe a mild pain reliever to manage any pain and may recommend some diet changes while finding out what is the cause of the symptoms. Once the diagnosis of diverticulosis is made, lifestyle changes will need to be made to help with the symptoms and to avoid diverticulitis.
Treating Diverticulosis and Avoiding Diverticulitis
When a person has diverticulosis, the main thing that needs to be done is to ensure that the pockets do not cause any trouble. A doctor may recommend the following treatments:
- High fiber diet - If the doctor thinks a lack of fiber may be causing the condition, they will recommend that a high fiber diet is consumed. If the high fiber diet does not work in alleviating symptoms, a fiber product like may be recommended so that the person gets enough fiber in the diet.
- Probiotics - The doctor may instruct the patient to start using probiotics. These probiotics can help fight the symptoms of diverticulosis and help to prevent a diverticulitis attack. There are supplements and yogurts that can help a person get enough probiotics in their diets.
- Losing weight - If the sufferer is overweight, the doctor may tell them to lose weight, which may help with the cessation of symptoms.
- Avoiding medications - Certain medications may increase the symptoms of this condition.
Early treatment is helpful with this condition to ensure that there is no issue with a diverticulitis flare-up. As long as a person follows their doctor's instructions, they should have no problems eliminating the symptoms of this condition.