DI­VER­TIC­U­LO­SIS

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What is it?

Di­ver­tic­u­lo­sis re­sults when pouches called di­ver­tic­ula form in the walls of the di­ges­tive tract, as the in­ner layer of the in­tes­tine pushes through weak spots in the outer lin­ing. This most of­ten oc­curs in the lower large in­tes­tine. Di­ver­tic­u­lo­sis rarely af­fects peo­ple un­der 30, and is most com­mon among over 60s.

Symp­toms

The ma­jor­ity of those with di­ver­tic­u­lo­sis don’t show symp­toms of the con­di­tion, but in those who do, the most com­mon in­clude: Ab­dom­i­nal pain and cramp­ing. Bloat­ing. Con­sti­pa­tion. Di­ar­rhoea. Cramp­ing on the left side of your ab­domen that dis­ap­pears af­ter pass­ing gas or mov­ing your bow­els. A doc­tor will sug­gest some ways to re­lieve your symp­toms, like tak­ing a mild pain re­liever, while they pin­point the cause. Con­di­tions such as IBS and pep­tic ul­cers can cause sim­i­lar symp­toms, so they’ll want to rule them out.

Causes

As with IBS, doc­tors aren’t sure of ex­actly what causes di­ver­tic­u­lo­sis, but sug­gest it could be a re­sult of mus­cle strain or spasm, which could cause pres­sure to build in the colon and press against the in­testi­nal lin­ing.

Treat­ment

Treat­ment for this con­di­tion is fo­cused on pre­vent­ing the di­ver­tic­ula from be­com­ing prob­lem­atic. This usu­ally in­volves: Med­i­ca­tion to help ease symp­toms, such as mesalazine, which can help with bloat­ing and pain. Pro­bi­otics, which are healthy bac­te­ria that live in the stom­ach and in­testines. High-fi­bre foods that re­duce pain and gas in the stom­ach. Drink­ing enough wa­ter daily.

What to watch for

Pain that doesn’t ease from pass­ing gas or a bowel move­ment. Bright red blood in the stool.

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