Diverticulosis and diverticulitis
Diverticula are small pea-sized pouches which have pushed out of the intestinal walls, primarily in the large intestine, but they can appear in the small intestine too.
They are thought to be caused by low-fibre diet, constipation and aging. Soft stools are easier to pass and can be easily moved along the digestive tract by peristalsis. Harder (constipated) stools are more difficult to propel and force the bowel to work harder. Over time the muscles in the colon thicken and the pressure inside the colon increases. This pressure pushes out sections of bowel wall, creating diverticula and causing diverticulosis.
Diverticulosis affects half of all people over the age of 60. Like IBS, it affects more women than men. Most of us will have no issues with diverticulosis, but some people go on to get diverticulitis, when the diverticular pockets become infected and this can be quite serious.
Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
- Fever (may be accompanied with nausea)
Cramping and constipation
Antibiotics are usually prescribed along with a liquid or soft fibre diet. This usually resolves the issue. Once inflammation has died down, patients should increase their intake of fibre and water.
It’s not necessary, however, to avoid nuts, seeds or corn.