The best treatment for diverticulitis varies depending on the severity of the disease. Mild cases are often managed through diet, lifestyle changes, and medications. For severe or complicated cases, a surgery may be needed.
The management of diverticulitis includes the following:
- Bed rest
- Plenty of fluids (at least eight ounces of water each day)
- Stool softeners
- Fruits including bananas, apples, peaches, pears, and tangerines
- Boiled/baked and peeled potatoes
- Vegetable juices
- Soft cooked vegetables such as sweet potatoes, asparagus, beets, turnips, pumpkin, broccoli, artichokes, lima beans, carrots, and squash
- High-fiber cereals such as shredded wheat
- Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, farina, and cream of wheat
- Whole-grain breads such as whole wheat or whole rye bread
Antibiotics: These are used to fight infection and treat abscess formation if any.
Surgery: In cases where there is a hole in the gut due to a severe infection or an injury, an operation may be required.
Is diverticulitis dangerous?
Diverticulitis is a potentially serious condition involving infection or swelling of the pockets or bulges (called diverticula), which may form in the large bowel (colon). These pockets or diverticula push out through the weak spots in the colon. Diverticulitis needs treatment through medications and, in some cases, surgery as it can lead to many dangerous complications:
- Abscess: It is a painful, swollen, infected, and pus-filled area just outside the colon wall. It may cause fever with chills, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain.
- Bowel obstruction: Diverticulitis may cause partial or complete obstruction of the intestine.
- Perforation: It refers to a small hole or tear in the colon.
- Peritonitis: It is the inflammation or infection of the lining of the abdomen. It presents as fever and severe abdominal pain.
- Fistula: It refers to an abnormal passage between two organs or between an organ and the outside of the body.
Can diverticulitis be prevented?
Some lifestyle and diet modifications can definitely reduce the risk of diverticulitis. Preventive measures include the following:
- Eat plenty of fiber: One of the most important factors that may prevent diverticulitis is having regular bowel movements and avoiding constipation (hard stools and straining). A fiber-rich diet draws more water inside the stool, making it move more easily and swiftly through the gut.
- Drink lots of water: A high-fiber diet pulls more water. Thus, drinking plenty of water is important for regular and comfortable bowel movements. Many experts suggest drinking at least eight ounces of water each day.
- Regular exercise: Staying physically active keeps your weight under check besides aiding digestion and healthy bowel movements. Around 30 minutes of exercise each day or on most of the days is recommended by most experts.
Avoid refined or processed foods such as white rice, pastries, white flour and other processed foods.
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