Saturday, January 3, 2015

Diverticulosis & Diverticulitis

Photo by kevinv033.
Until I turned 50, I had never heard the following words:
  • diverticula
  • diverticulosis
  • diverticulitis
Now I have have friends and family members with direct experience with these phenomena of bulging sacs in the intestinal tract.   

Risk factors include age, constipation, and a low-fiber diet. 

Note: I am not a doctor. If you have any health concerns, please see a licensed medical professional.  

"Diverticula" is the plural for diverticulum, a bulging sac or hole or outpocketing in the lining of the intestinal track. 

"Diverticulosis" is the condition of having sacs that are uninfected and causing no problems. This is the precursor to the more serious problem of infection.  Here is a short video (1:24) defining this condition. 

"Diverticulitis" occurs when these sacs become infected, which is signaled by acute abdominal pain, often in the lower left quadrant and sometimes accompanied by bleeding, bloating, fever, chills, and vomiting.  Here is a short video (1 min.) defining this condition. 


Diverticulitis is extremely painful and can lead to serious complication if persistent and untreated. Unfortunately, it's also extremely common among older adults in the United States.

According to Emedicine Health:
"Over half of people older than 60 years of age develop the condition [of diverticulosis], and about two-thirds of individuals older than 80 years of age are believed to have diverticulosis."
While the cause is not absolutely clear, medical researchers see a correlation between a low fiber diet and an increase of cases of diverticulitis.  The condition was rare in the US before 1900 and the increase of processed foods. Also, people in Asia and Africa have fewer cases of diverticulitis, and they have diets higher in fiber.

Generally, the advice for prevention is to eat a high fiber diet and drink plenty of fluids. However, there is some controversy as to what people should eat once they get diverticulitis. Some say to avoid corn, nuts and seeds; others say to eat these high-fiber foods.

Follow the advice of your gastroenterologist, who should be keeping current on the research.

For a more in-depth discussion of diverticulosis and diverticulitis, watch this mid-length (6:15) video:


I got my first colonoscopy in 2014, and no diverticula were found. Woo hoo! I'm trying to eat a high-fiber diet to prevent (or at least postpone into my 80s) this condition.

Related:

My 1st Colonoscopy Screening







16 comments:

  1. I've got osis, have had itis and am super conservative about what I eat because of it. Not fun.

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    1. Sorry! I hope that you never get another attack. All my best to you.

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  2. I got my first colonoscopy in 2014 and they did find diverticula. Sigh. But no infection, so that's good. I already ate a high-fiber diet. I've been working on the water consumption. Hoping to stay healthy in 2015!

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    1. I hope you stay pain free. I'm drinking a cup of lemon-ginger tea to your health.

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  3. I suffered from diverticulitis for eight years. Many attacks. Each attack cost me a couple of weeks of my life. I started keeping track on my iphone and realized I couldn't keep up living like that. So I had a bowel resection about nine months ago. Surgery was straightforward and the recovery was not nearly as awful as I anticipated. Have felt great since! Wish I had done the surgery much earlier.

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    1. I am so sorry that you suffered that many attacks. I hear they are very painful. I am glad that surgery brought you relief. That's an intervention that I didn't read much about when exploring the topic. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. All my best to you.

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  4. Yes as we age new diseases and treatments pop into our lives. I have not yet been diagnosed with this and also hope for a couple of more decades to be free from it. I do now have lactose issue. Good to know this holiday season, Eggnog, is a double Lactaid dose kind of food.

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    1. Oh, now I want Eggnog in July. (Sorry it took me so long to get back here.) All my best to you, Haralee!

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  5. Thanks for the useful info. You're inspired me to redouble my efforts to eat high fiber and stay hydrated.

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    1. Happy fiber and hydration to you, Roz. It's July and hydration is even more an appropriate theme!

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  6. My diagnosis is the same as Joy Weese Moll -- except I got my first colonoscopy in 1999.

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    1. Oh, I'm a newbie. Thanks for pioneering this space ahead of me. Take care, Tom.

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  7. Oh my goodness. You've scared me into eating more fiber. I had a colonoscopy YEARS ago; maybe I should go for another, just to be safe.

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    1. Good health (colon health and overall health) to you, dear Lisa!

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  8. Wow, I had no idea. I'm going to drink another glass of water right now and will be adding more fiber to my diet. Thank you!

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    1. I know! Who knew? Now that I am a gerontologist as my second career, I hear about this all. of. the. time. Weird. All my best to you, Lois.

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