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Most people with diverticulosis experience no symptoms and do not require treatment; however, the condition can lead to infection, bowel obstruction, and pain. If diverticula burst, they might become inflamed and require emergency surgery. Patients with more mild symptoms commonly use anti-spasm medication, antibiotics, and pain medication as diverticulosis treatments.
Doctors commonly recommend increasing the amount of fiber and fluid in the diet to prevent additional diverticula from forming in the lining of the colon. Some physicians also suggest avoiding seeds, nuts, and corn to ward off complications of the disease. Diverticulosis treatments during an attack typically call for a low-fiber diet and plenty of liquids to give the colon time to rest.
A diverticulum is a bulge or sac that protrudes through a weak spot in the lining of the colon, usually the sigmoid colon on the lower left side of the abdomen. If more than one pouch exists, they are called diverticula. Diverticulosis is the term used when diverticula exist but produce few symptoms. When the condition causes problems, doctors refer to the disorder as diverticular disease. Diverticulitis means the lining of the bowel is inflamed and swollen.
If a patient suffers more than two episodes of diverticulitis, or if the sac breaks, diverticulosis treatments routinely include surgery. A colon resection removes the affected part of the bowel, and healthy sections are sewn together. An alternative option involves routing part of the intestine through an opening in the abdomen to allow waste matter to collect in an exterior pouch. After the bowel heals, the intestine can be reconnected inside the body. Diverticulosis treatments requiring surgery typically occur when medication does not work, when an abscess forms, or if the bowel becomes obstructed.
Symptoms of the disorder vary and may subside and return periodically. Some patients experience pain and bloating accompanied by excessive gas, especially after a meal. Nausea, vomiting, excessive urination, and fever indicate diverticulosis treatments may be necessary. Constipation or diarrhea may also be present.
Physicians commonly suggest that patients increase fiber intake by eating more vegetables and fruits. Fluids may help prevent constipation, which is linked to the development of diverticula from contractions in the colon when trying to pass hard stools. Constipation might also develop from painkillers containing opiates and from lack of exercise. The condition is considered rare in regions where the diet includes plenty of fiber and little red meat.
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