Do you often experience belly pain? Are you constantly battling bloating and gas, or nausea? Have you simply lost your appetite as of late? While these symptoms seem to be consistent with a number of digestive complications, they may actually be a signal of diverticulitis. What exactly is diverticulitis? What causes it? How is it treated? Let’s take a look at this condition that can put a damper on your digestion.
Do you often experience belly pain that becomes even worse when you move? Are you constantly battling bloating and gas, or nausea? Have you simply lost your appetite as of late?
While these symptoms seem to be consistent with a number of digestive complications (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome), they may actually be a signal of diverticulitis.
It’s kind of a funny-sounding name, but diverticulitis is no laughing matter to those who suffer from it. My grandma suffered for many years from this condition and actually ended up in the hospital a few times because of complications from it. While she tried to prevent flare-ups by managing her diet and avoiding certain foods (sweet corn was definitely off-limits for Grandma), she would occasionally experience unpleasant symptoms.
So what is exactly is diverticulitis? What causes it? How is it treated? Let’s take a look at the condition that can put a damper on your digestion.
First of all, diverticulosis is a condition in which small pouches in the colon (large intestine) bulge out in weakened spots. About half of all people over the age of 60 have it, and in 10 to 25 percent of those cases, the pouches become infected and inflamed, resulting in a condition that is then known as diverticulitis (yes, they sound very much the same, but they’re not).
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of diverticulitis include cramping, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating and tenderness on and around the abdominal area. If an infection is behind the diagnosis, fever, chills and nausea may also occur.
What causes diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis can be caused by the failure to eat a high-fiber diet—a theory supported by the rarity of the disease in countries where a diet rich in fiber is the norm. People who are constipated may be at higher risk, as the associated pressure and straining puts stress on the colon and may push the pouches outward.
What are the treatment options?
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with diverticulitis, your doctor may suggest that you increase your fiber intake through dietary sources, such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that a high-fiber diet can keep symptoms at bay for five years or more. Additional fiber intake through supplements like Metamucil and Fiber Sure will also help you up your intake.
If you’re experiencing any pain due to your diverticulitis, your doctor may suggest over-the-counter or prescription medications to relieve your symptoms. But consider these natural remedies as well:
Aloe vera. Drinking the juice made from this plant can reduce inflammation in the colon.
Glutamine. An amino acid that promotes the healthy growth of new colon cells.
Peppermint. This herb alleviates the spasms and cramping often associated with diverticulitis.
Chamomile. A natural anti-inflammatory, Chamomile helps to prevent flare-ups.
Valerian Root. Mixed into a tea-like drink, this herb can soothe an irritated digestive tract.
Additionally, make sure you’re getting plenty of regular exercise and drink lots of water throughout the day.
If you’re like my grandma, rest her soul, you know how diverticulitis can interrupt your life as well as the pain and discomfort it can cause. But with the helpful tips above and proper management of your diet, you can ease the effect diverticulitis has on your life (and the lives of those around you if gas happens to be one of your symptoms – sorry couldn’t resist).