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Frequently Asked Questions About Diverticulitis

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  • Diverticulitis starts when sac-like pouches, called diverticula, form on the walls of your intestines because of passing of hard stools
  • Unfortunately, diverticulosis is irreversible and once you’ve developed even one diverticulum, it will stay there for life, as the body cannot stretch back a protruded intestinal wall

Q: How do you get diverticulitis?

A: Diverticulitis starts with a condition called diverticulosis, when sac-like pouches, called diverticula, form on the walls of your intestines. It’s not known exactly what causes diverticulosis, and not all those who have it will experience problems from it. When the diverticula become inflamed, diverticulitis occurs. It’s also not known why some people will develop diverticulitis, but one theory suggests that can be triggered by passing of hard stools.1

The inflammation occurs when the stools get trapped in the pouches, often becoming infected and resulting in diverticulitis.2 According to the Mayo Clinic, the primary risk factors for diverticulitis are being older, overweight and sedentary. Smoking, taking certain medications and having a diet lacking in fiber also can increase your risk of diverticulitis.3

Since straining and passing of hard stools exacerbates diverticulosis and, eventually, diverticulitis, it could be said that this is an ailment tied to a lack of dietary fiber intake,4 although this is still a hotly contested topic.5 To learn more about the causes of diverticulitis, check out this page.

Q: What does diverticulitis pain feel like?

A: Most people with diverticulosis — at least 70% to 80% — usually have no symptoms,6 and if they do, the pain tends to be mild and is felt in the abdomen, particularly in the belly.7 However, the case is different once diverticulosis progresses to diverticulitis. The pain, which either comes on suddenly and severely or develops over a few days, becomes more intense.8 It manifests below the belly button and then moves to the lower left-hand side.9

Q: Diverticulitis versus diverticulosis: What’s the difference between these two?

A: Diverticulosis is a condition wherein you have diverticula — sac-like pouches — in your colon. It’s a common condition that affects 65% of people  65 years old and above,10 and is typically painless. If symptoms occur, they are usually mild.

Diverticulitis is more severe. It’s the condition that results when the diverticula become inflamed and infected. Diverticulitis comes with pain and other uncomfortable symptoms, and may lead to complications such as abscesses and fistulas.11,12 Here are more basic facts about diverticulitis.

Q: Is surgery recommended for diverticulitis?

A: Surgery is not usually recommended for diverticulitis. However, if the disease has already worsened or complications have arisen, bowel resection may be advised.13 Also known as partial colectomy, this procedure aims to remove a diseased or damaged part of the rectum or colon. You may need to stay in the hospital for four to seven days, or as long as two weeks, after a colectomy.

The diverticulitis surgery recovery time may take anywhere between six to eight weeks.14 Remember, however, that any intensive surgical procedure has risks and may result in complications, so it’s best to exhaust all natural and safer options before undergoing surgery.

Q: Is there a link between diverticulitis and alcohol?

A: Yes. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology has found that alcohol intake is a significant risk factor for colonic diverticulitis. According to the findings:

“When the prevalence of diverticulosis reported from 18 countries was analyzed against alcohol use, there was a strong correlation with national per-capita alcohol consumption rates.”15

Q: Is diverticulitis contagious?

A: There is no evidence that diverticulitis is contagious. For it to occur, diverticula must first develop in a person’s gastrointestinal tract.16

Q: How long does a diverticulitis flare-up last?

A: The symptoms of diverticulitis can clear up within a few days,17 as long as you take the correct actions to resolve the problem. However, remember that flare-ups may occur, so make sure to apply the recommended holistic strategies to keep this from happening.

Q: Can diverticulitis be cured?

A: Unfortunately, diverticulosis is irreversible and once you’ve developed even one diverticulum, it will stay there for life, as the body cannot stretch back a protruded intestinal wall.18 Nevertheless, there are ways to prevent diverticulosis from progressing to diverticulitis. There are also effective methods to control the symptoms of this ailment reduce your risk of flare-ups.

MORE ABOUT DIVERTICULITIS

Diverticulitis: Introduction

What Is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis Causes

Diverticulitis Types

Is Diverticulitis Hereditary?

Diverticulitis Signs and Symptoms

Diverticulitis Treatment

Diverticulitis Prevention

Diverticulitis Diet

Diverticulitis FAQ

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