What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is a condition that occurs when small pockets or out-pouchings form in the lining of the digestive tract and push through weak spots in the wall of your colon.
What are the Symptoms of Diverticulosis?
Most people with diverticulosis are completely unaware that they have the condition. It is typically asymptomatic. Some people may feel tenderness or abdominal cramping over the affected area but this is not common. Bleeding can occur. Most often, the condition goes unnoticed and is an incidental finding discovered during colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy.
What causes Diverticulosis?
Experts are not exactly sure what causes diverticulosis; however, because the condition is more common in Western societies, it is thought that a diet low in fiber and high in processed foods and animals fats may contribute to the disease, as may long term straining with bowel movements and constipation. There may also be a genetic component.
Who gets Diverticulosis?
- Overweight and obese individuals
- Cigarette smokers
- Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle (vigorous activity appears to lower your risk),
- Individuals with a diet low in fiber and high in animal fats and processed foods,
- Those who take certain medications such as steroids, opioids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
How is the Diagnosis made?
Diagnosis is typically made as an incidental finding during colonoscopy.
How is Diverticulosis Treated?
Unfortunately, once diverticula form, they do not disappear. Most patients with diverticulosis are completely asymptomatic and often do not require treatment; however, if symptoms occur, a high fiber diet may be recommended and/or fiber supplementation to help bulk and soften your stools, making them easier to pass. Probiotics may be another option to help with the symptoms of gas and bloating.
How is Diverticulosis prevented?
Once diverticula form, they do not disappear on their own, so prevention is key. Simple lifestyle and dietary modifications, in addition to getting on a good bowel routine, can help.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise promotes normal bowel function and helps to reduce pressure inside your colon. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Always check with a medical provider first before starting any exercise routine.
- Eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet decreases your risk for developing diverticulosis. Daily fiber recommendations are 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Fiber-rich foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, soften waste material and help it to pass more quickly through your digestive tract. Examples of fiber rich foods include: apples, pears, peas, broccoli, squash, beans, legumes, whole grain pastas, oatmeal, barley, strawberries, raspberries, chia seeds, almonds, pistachios, turnips, and brussel sprouts. While nuts and seeds are an excellent source of fiber and other nutrients, they can be problematic for some people. We advise you to keep a food diary and avoid any food triggers specific to you. If it’s hard for you to tolerate a high fiber diet due to gas or bloating, make sure to drink plenty of water. Water may help to minimize these symptoms. Fiber supplements may be another option.
- Avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Fiber works by absorbing water and increasing the soft, bulky waste in your colon. If you don't drink enough liquid to replace what's absorbed in the stool, fiber can be constipating.
Please call us at 908-788-8200 or visit our office for a comprehensive and personalized medical evaluation to determine if Diverticulitis or another gastrointestinal disorder is the cause of your symptoms.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class gastroenterologist regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.