Colonic diverticulitis (large intestine): Causes, description, Treatment

Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Colonic diverticulitis (large intestine) (Disease)

Colonic diverticulitis (large intestine): Description

Diverticulitis is found in the large intestine being known as a common digestive disease. Diverticulosis involves the formation of pouches (diverticula) on the outside of the colon from which diverticulitis develops. Diverticulitis develops if one of these diverticula becomes inflamed.

A person that suffers of diverticulosis may have few or even no symptoms. Some symptoms may include abdominal pain, abdominal tenderness, and fever. When bleeding originates from a diverticulum, it is called diverticular bleeding. A person who suffers the consequences of diverticulosis in the colon is referred to as having diverticular disease.

A diverticulum can rupture, and the bacteria within the colon can spread into the tissues surrounding the colon causing diverticulitis. Other symptoms may consist of constipation or diarrhea. A collection of pus can develop around the inflamed diverticulum, leading to formation of an abscess, usually in the pelvis. On rare occasions, the inflamed diverticula can erode into the urinary bladder, causing bladder infection and passing of intestinal gas in the urine. Inflammation in the colon can also lead to colonic bowel obstruction. Rarely, a diverticulum ruptures freely into the abdominal cavity causing a life threatening infection called peritonitis.

Causes and Risk factors

When a diverticulum ruptures and infection sets in around the diverticulum, the condition is called diverticulitis. The rupture results in infection in the tissues that surround the colon.

Diverticulosis is extremely common. Some of the most important risk factors of diverticulosis may be old age and diet. More than half of all adults over the age of 70 have the condition. Most of these people are unaware that they have this disease.

Facts led to the theory that the low-fiber diet common in Western nations may be of an important affect. Animal studies show that this theory is possible. It has also been shown that vegetarians develop diverticulosis less commonly. But the exact mechanism of how a low-fiber diet may cause diverticulosis is not known yet.

Colonic diverticulitis (large intestine): Treatment and Diagnosis

Some doctors also recommend avoidance of nuts, corn, and seeds to prevent complications of diverticulosis. Whether these dietary restrictions are beneficial is uncertain.

When diverticulitis occurs, antibiotics are usually needed. Oral antibiotics are sufficient when symptoms are mild. Liquid or low fiber foods are advised during acute attacks of diverticulitis

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