Diverticulitis is a condition where parts of the bowel get inflamed or infected. The bowel is a muscular tube with a smooth wall that stool can pass easily along, helped by muscle contractions. As we age, our bowels can develop small outpouchings, which are known as diverticula. -
If these pockets get inflamed or infected, this is known as diverticulitis. You can become quite ill. People with a sudden diverticulitis flare will suffer from tummy pain, usually in the left lower side, that comes and goes but is usually worse after eating and gets better after passing gas or stool. Other symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, mucus or blood in the stool, and a fever.
Your doctor diagnoses diverticulitis after examining you or seen on either a CT scan or a colonoscopy (camera in the rectum).
Occasionally, if you have no relevant symptoms or only mild tummy pain and occasional bleeding from the rectum, diverticulitis may be seen if you have a scan for another reason and is of little significance.
A high-fiber diet can help reduce the possibility of developing diverticula in the first place. If you do develop diverticula, fiber can help to bulk up your stool to keep it moving along, reducing the chance of diverticulitis developing.
A high-fiber diet can often ease symptoms. Some high-fiber supplements, such as Fybogel, are available at pharmacies, which can help increase the amount of soluble fiber in the diet, in addition to a well-balanced diet.
For pain relief, acetaminophen can help. It’s less likely to cause stomach upset than anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
If you have symptoms of diverticulitis, you should urgently see your doctor. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, especially pain in the left lower side, fever, change in bowel habits with either constipation or diarrhea, and mucus or blood in the stool.
All blood and mucus in your stool should be discussed with your doctor.
Diverticulitis will usually leave you feeling too unwell for work.
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