If you regularly experience pain in your stomach, bloating, nausea, or cramping in your abdomen, it may be more than just a simple stomach ache. These are also symptoms of diverticulitis, a severe infection in the lower intestine that, if left untreated, may result in your colon rupturing.
What is Diverticulitis?
Small, bulging pouches that form in the digestive tract are known as diverticulosis. The pouches, known as diverticula, most likely form as a result of a low-fiber diet. If there is not enough fiber to add substance to the stool, the colon has to work even harder to move the stool. Doctors believe the added pressure in the colon creates the diverticula. When any of the diverticula become inflamed or infected, a condition known as diverticulitis occurs. Diverticulitis may be difficult to detect at first as its symptoms are shared with that of an upset stomach. However, this infection should not be taken lightly; it’s important to be aware of several complications that stem from diverticulitis.
Complications of Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis can cause other infections and digestive issues if it is left untreated. Complications that may occur include:
- Fistulas or other abnormal tears and holes in the colon or digestive tract
- Blockages and constipation
- Bleeding in the stool
- Inflammation in the colon (known as Colitis)
- Peritonitis (an infection caused by rupturing diverticula)
How to Avoid Diverticulitis
While doctors are not 100% certain why diverticula form, there are obvious links to diet. Eating foods that are high in fiber and staying hydrated are key factors in helping the stool to pass and may prevent diverticulitis. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women consume a minimum of 21 grams of fiber each day and men a minimum of 30 grams. That’s 8 bananas a day! But don’t worry, consume these fruits and vegetables throughout the day and you’ll have no problems reaching your fiber goals:
- Black Beans
- Sweet Potatoes
It is possible to live with diverticulosis without an infection causing diverticulitis, but seeking nutritional advice from your healthcare provider is necessary.
When to Call the Doctor
If you’ve been diagnosed with diverticulosis and want to avoid the disease from getting worse, it’s time to call the doctor! If you experience chronic stomach pains or bleeding in your stool, don’t hesitate. Make an appointment today! Our doctors at Carolina Digestive Health Associates are here not only to help you feel better, but be healthy!BACK