Diverticulitis

Overview

Diverticulitis is a common disorder of the digestive tract. It is characterized by inflammation and/or infection of one or more of the pouches or sacs formed in the inner lining of the intestines. These sacs are known as diverticula and their formation is known as diverticulosis. A diverticulosis usually gets clogged or filled with substances such as feces, other waste materials and bacterial colony, as part of the normal digestive processes that occur in the colon. When these diverticula become clogged and these clogs start causing infection and inflammation, the condition is now known as diverticulitis. Diverticulitis commonly affects the large intestine or colon.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The condition usually causes the development of symptoms such as lower abdominal pain that occurs in the lower left quadrant, increased body temperature and an increase in the total white blood cell count. In some cases, other symptoms such as the passage of soft, watery stools occur which is usually followed by constipation and nausea. There are also reported cases of bleeding from the rectal area in some individuals with the disease. Symptoms tend to increase in severity as the condition prolongs and infection spreads.

Diagnosis of the condition is usually made based on the presenting symptoms, which are correlated with the laboratory findings such as blood tests. Aside from these, a CT scan which is enhanced with contrast media may also be used to visualize the site affected and the degree of colonic tissue damage. Images from CT scans are considered to be highly reliable, revealing not only areas of inflammation but also other portions of the colon which may also be developing abscess and are at increased risk for perforation. Other diagnostic imaging studies are also used.

Causes

The condition is considered to be idiopathic in nature, meaning it is still not known what causes it, although there are certain theories and links to its occurrence. One of the reasons pointed out is the increase in the pressure in the lumen inside the colon. There is also a link to an individual’s dietary practices, specifically a deficiency of regular fiber intake. Although this theory is widely accepted in the medical field, some studies dispute its validity since there are findings that increasing the fiber in the diet of an individual causes an increase in the colonic intraluminal pressure, thereby increasing the risk of the development of diverticular diseases. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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