If you’ve found yourself experiencing severe abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and a drastic change in your bowel habits, you may have a gastrointestinal disease known as diverticulitis. This is a fairly common condition and one that can be treated easily with changes in diet and with certain medications.

What Is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive tract that develops mostly within your colon, which is the lower part of the large intestine. It develops from the presence of diverticula, which are small pouches that can form in the lining of your GI tract. This condition, a precursor to diverticulitis, is called diverticulosis. The pouches are formed when the inner layer of the intestine pushes through the outer lining. Diverticulosis typically doesn’t show symptoms, but it can if an infection develops, leading to diverticulitis. Once an infection occurs in the diverticula, inflammation and tearing of the wall of your colon can develop.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the lower part of the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Constipation

Who Is At Risk?

There are a number of risk factors that lead to diverticulitis, many of which overlap with other common GI diseases and disorders. It’s most common in patients over 60, with a very high percentage of patients experiencing the disease over the age of 80. While there is no finite cause for the disease, it is brought on largely by factors related to diet, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and a diet high in animal fat and low in fiber. Some complications can occur, including developing an abscess, developing scarring that creates a blockage, or other complications that might necessitate surgery or other medical interventions. A common myth about diverticulitis is that it is aggravated by eating nuts, seeds, or popcorn. Research has since shown that this isn’t the case.

What Can I Do To Avoid This Disease?

One of the crucial ways to fight diverticulitis is to maintain a healthy digestive system. 

Make the right lifestyle changes now, and maintain them to establish good habits. While you can’t fight genetics, which is a component of developing diverticulitis, you can make the right choices when it comes to diet and exercise. You should cut out high amounts of processed food and red meat, eat more vegetables, quit smoking and excessive drinking, and lose those extra pounds. A healthy diet and good exercise routine will go a long way in preventing both diverticulitis and a number of other GI diseases.

If you are looking for ways to improve your digestive health and work on preventative measures to avoid conditions like diverticulitis schedule an appointment with GI Associates today to start your journey to better gut health.

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