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Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are two conditions of diverticular disease. Let’s figure out how they differ from each other. Diverticulosis is the formation of small pockets that are called diverticula in the lining of the bowel. The reason for formation of diverticula concerns increased pressure from gas, waste or liquid on weakened parts of the intestinal walls. It is important to take into account that diverticula vary in number from a single one to hundreds. Also, diverticula can be of different size – from 3 to 10 mm in diameter. Diverticula are formed while straining during bowel movements and persistent constipation. They are more typical for large intestine and frequently the sigmoid colon. Diverticulitis deals with infection and it is considered more serious conditions Sometimes diverticulosis leads to diverticulitis.

 

In most cases diverticulosis is symptom-free. But sometimes people suffer from mild cramps, bloating, gastrointestinal bleeding or constipation. Diverticulitis does have symptoms of abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. As diverticulitis is an infection itself, it can bring a person to other severe problems like abscess, perforation, peritonitis, fistula and intestinal obstruction. Since the symptoms describe are similar to some other conditions, the doctor can diagnose diverticular disease after colon examination.

 

Diverticulosis is quite common, especially among older people. Researches admit that about 35% of adults in the US who are 50 years or younger suffer from diverticulosis. At the same time, about 60 % of people over 55 have diverticulosis [2]. Most of the people with diverticulosis will never face serious problems, but one-fourth of patients have an increased risk of diverticulitis development. According to a recent survey, about 200,000 people are hospitalized for diverticulitis annually, and about 70,000 people develop diverticular bleeding each year [4].

Considering a number of patients suffering from this chronic condition, patient education is essential. The primary objective of which is to help you become responsible for your own health and learn how to manage diverticular disease and minimize complications.

The first thing to know for people with diverticular disorders regards the risk factors. People facing risks of diverticular disease can minimize the hazards and improve their health conditions.

 

Thus, the risk factors are the following [1]:

 
  • Low-Fiber diet as fiber eases the transit of wastes through the colon reducing the pressure on the intestine walls.

  • Too much red meat consumed makes a person constipated.

  • Diet high in saturated fats causes waste particles trapped in and further inflammation.

  • Little water intake as dehydration contributes to constipation significantly.

  • Genetics

  • Polycystic kidney disease

  • Obesity can cause chronic intestinal inflammation and be a reason for the presence of harmful bacteria in the gut.

  • Taking some drugs that can bring to gastrointestinal tract injury and damage intestinal tissues.

 

Minimizing risk factors, we can proceed to lifestyle improvement to manage diverticular disease [3]. Here are tips for patients to control their health status:

 
  • Fiber-rich foods intake. Fiber helps to manage unpleasant diverticular symptoms. Women should take at least 25 grams of fiber daily as men should aim for about 40 grams. The following foods are rich in fiber: whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Liquid consumption. Intake enough water and drinks. It is recommended to consume clear liquids like drinking water, tea or coffee without milk, broth, fruit juices.

  • Exercising. Have at least 3 hours of workout a week. Running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis are good options for your intestines. Also, walking is a good choice.

  • No straining. Plan daily routine properly. Take time and do not strain when you have a bowel movement.

  • Doctor’s appointment. See the doctor or nurse if you have problems. Keep the results of your abdominal examinations and do not throw the lists of the medicines you are prescribed to control your health.

Remember that you are the best friend of your health. Information delivered to a patient through the patient education scheme can improve the quality of life and keep you from many severe problems.

References:

  1. Böhm S. Risk Factors for Diverticulosis, Diverticulitis, Diverticular Perforation, and Bleeding: A Plea for More Subtle History Taking. Viszeralmedizin. 2015 Apr; 31(2): 84–94.

  2. Peery A. F., Keku T. O., Martin C. F., et al. Distribution and characteristics of colonic diverticula in a United States screening population. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2016 Jul; 14(7): 980-985.

  3. Walter E., Tursi A. Recent advances in the treatment of colonic diverticular disease and prevention of acute diverticulitis. Ann Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan-Mar; 29(1): 24–32.

  4. Wheat C. L., Strate L. L. Trends in hospitalization for diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding in the United States from 2000 to 2010. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2016; 14(1): 96–10

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