Diverticulitis - Acute Or Chronic
One of the conditions associated with aging is the development of diverticulosis and perhaps the need for diverticulitis surgery recovery.
Almost all patients with acute diverticulitis have pain in the lower left abdominal area, as well as fever and a high number of white blood cells. Diverticulitis patients may also suffer from nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea and/or frequent urination.
Although most attacks of diverticulitis are not associated with grave consequences, a small percentage of patients will develop very serious, even life-threatening complications. Among the possible complications are intestinal blockage, hemorrhage, rupture of the diverticulum and serious infection of the abdominal cavity or adjacent urinary tract.
Treatment of diverticulitis is directed at combating inflammation and infection. When no serious complications arise, an episode may be resolved in a few days of treatment with dietary restrictions, antibiotics and pain relievers. Mild cases of diverticulitis may be treated at home, but patients with more severe symptoms or complications may require hospitalization. Approximately 20 percent of the time, severe complications, or frequent recurrences, necessitate surgical removal of the affected segment of colon.
Patients should be aware that recovery from an acute diverticulitis does not exempt them from subsequent bouts. The importance of consuming adequate fiber should be emphasized to these patients. Seventy percent of diverticulitis patients followed for at least five years after beginning fiber supplementation were able to avoid recurrences. This finding is cited in the Practice Parameters for Sigmoid Diverticulitis produced by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS).
Diverticula are small pouches protruding from the colon that form as a result of the buildup of pressure. The pressure is usually intrinsic and related to tension or spasm.
The pouches form by a ballooning action at weak spots along the length of the colon. A diet high in fibre reduces tension along the wall of the colon and may inhibit the development of diverticulosis. Although diverticulosis usually is a benign condition, occasionally an underlying cancer or polyp causes the backup in high pressure. Should these pouches become infected and perforate, a much more serious condition called diverticulitis occurs. Diverticulitis requires immediate medical intervention.
Although aging and heredity may play a role in the development of diverticulosis, researchers also attribute the condition to eating low-fibre, refined foods, such as fatty meats, sugar and refined grain products. In the western world, some 20 to 50 per cent of people develop diverticular disorders.
People with diverticulosis may not even be aware of the condition because the diverticula are usually painless. The underlying condition that causes diverticulosis, however, such as colonic spasm, is usually manifested by abdominal cramping.
Colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and barium enema permit the physician to view various portions of the colon. However, these tests are not usually performed in the presence of acute diverticulitis since they can exacerbate the infection. After the infection has resolved, one of these examinations is usually performed to be certain that no underlying cancer or polyp is present that might have triggered the diverticulitis.
Infections with perforation are the hallmarks of diverticulitis. Although the perforation usually remains microscopic or is walled off by the surrounding tissues, it occasionally causes peritonitis, a potentially fatal infection in the abdomen.