Diverticulitis may feel like appendicitis, but instead of the pain being in the lower-right side of the abdomen, it is on the lower-left side. Symptoms are caused by muscle abnormality and consist of lower-left abdominal pain. Another symptom would be abdominal distension, an irregular bowel habit with pellet-like stools. Small quantities of blood may also be passed with bowel actions. These symptoms are similar to those of the irritable bowel syndrome. Abnormal muscle function cause both disorders to occur.. The pain is usually severe and suddenly comes about, but sometimes you may have mild pain that becomes worse over several days and fluctuates in intensity. Abdominal tenderness, fever, nausea, and constipation or diarrhea may also be present.
Waste material is stored in the colon or also known as the large intestines. As we age, leading to the weakening of the tissue walls of the colon, diverticula, the pressure by which the waste material causes the formation of sacs or bulging pockets on the intestinal walls, occurs. Diverticula may occur in the large intestine but they are usually seen forming at the sigmoid colon.
Diverticultis happens when the diverticula becomes infected. Infections may be caused by bacteria or stool that are trapped in the diverticula, although doctors are not quite sure why the infection occurs.
A diverticulis attack can develop all of a sudden, without any warning.
What are the signs and symptoms of diverticulitis?
Most people who have diverticulosis have few or no symptoms. When patients go in for tests for other types of intestinal problems, diverticulosis is incidentally discovered. About 20 percent of the people affected with diverticulosis develop the symptoms associated with it. Bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramping are some of the most common signs of diverticular disease. These symptoms are linked with the difficulty in passing stool through the left colon, caused by diverticular disease.
However, when the condition worsens into diverticulitis, more serious complications like pus filled abscess forming, bleeding in the colon, obstruction in the colon, bacterial infection of the abdominal cavity due to rupturing of the colon, known as peritonitis, and bleeding within the colon can occur accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Pain in the lower left portion of the abdomen as well as intermittent fever are the usual symptoms of diverticulitis. Constipation and diarrhea could also happen. Pus forming around the infected diverticula leads to the abscess development, which usually occurs in the pelvis. Sometimes, the infected diverticula can even cause erosion into the bladder, which leads to infection and gas being passed during urination. More frequently, an infected diverticulum could also rupture into the abdominal cavity leading to peritonitis, which can be a life-threatening condition.
Diverticular bleeding happens when there is stool erosion into a blood vessel at the lower part of a diverticulum. Red or even darker colored spots pass through the anus without any abdominal pain associated with it. Although it could be rare, blood clots can also be black in color when there is bleeding in the right colon. The bleeding will last for a couple days and could be intermittent or continuous. For the condition to be monitored, patients with symptoms of active bleeding are generally confined in the hospital and administered with intravenous fluids in order to maintain the blood pressure. When the blood loss is moderate to severe, blood transfusion may be given. Rarely, if there is severe bleeding, blood pressures drop and it leads to a shock and loss of consciousness. Quite the number of cases, there is spontaneous stoppage of the bleeding, and the patients can go home after a few days at the hospital. The bleeding diverticula may be removed surgically if the bleeding is severe and persistent.
"About 10 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have diverticulosis. The condition becomes more common as people age. About half of all people over the age of 60 have diverticulosis."
A low-residue diet is recommended during the flare-up periods of diverticulitis to decrease bowel volume so that the infection can heal. An intake of less than 10 grams of fiber per day is generally considered a low residue diverticulitis diet. If you have been on a low-residue diet for an extended period of time, your doctor may recommend a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.