What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is a condition characterized by the formation of diverticula, which are tiny pouch-like structures along the lining of the digestive tract. Diverticula are commonly found in the lower portion of the large intestine.
Causes of Diverticulosis
The exact causes of diverticulosis are unknown; however, it may be caused by muscle spasms or straining during bowel movements, resulting in a pressure build-up in your colon, which pushes against the lining. Also, it may also be due to a history of eating a low-fiber, high-fat diet.
Diverticulosis is very common in people over the age of 60. Men are affected more than women. The following are some of the most common risk factors for diverticulosis:
- Lack of exercise
- Use of certain medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Symptoms of Diverticulosis
Some common symptoms of diverticulosis include:
- Bloating or swelling
- Mild abdominal cramps
Diagnosis of Diverticulosis
Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a thorough physical examination to check for the presence of diverticulosis. The various diagnostic tests that may be used to confirm the condition include:
- CT Scan: Special x-rays are used to produce images of your digestive tract.
- Colonoscopy: In this study, a tube-like instrument with a miniature camera and light source is inserted to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine and rectum.
- Lower GI Series: This study uses a barium-based contrast material to produce X-ray images of the large intestine.
Treatment for Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis treatment focuses on preventing the pouches from becoming inflamed and causing symptoms, a condition called Diverticulitis. Diverticulosis treatment may include:
- High-Fiber Diet: Consumption of fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, can help reduce acid reflux and stomach aches.
- Medications: Medications like mesalazine can help reduce the symptoms of diverticulosis.
- Probiotics: These contain beneficial bacteria that help restore the balance of healthy gut flora.
Prevention of Diverticulosis
The primary means of preventing diverticulosis is through eating a healthy diet and regular exercise. Diverticulosis can be caused by a low-fiber diet and high-fat foods, so a high-fiber diet rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and probiotics is the mainstay of prevention. Avoiding smoking and minimizing the use of anti-inflammatory drugs can further help prevent diverticulosis.