High fibre food can ease diverticulitis pain

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High fibre food can ease diverticulitis pain

Diverticulosis is uncommon before the age of 40, and increases in incidence after that age.

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 25 Jan 2014, 10:39 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:56 PM

Diverticular disease of the colon is the condition of having diverticulae in the colon which are outpunching of the mucosa through weaknesses of muscle layers in the colon wall, more often on the left side of the colon, explained Dr Muhanned Hasan, Consultant General Surgeon, Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah.

These pouches are usually very small (5 to 10 millimeters) in diameter or larger. Diverticulosis is uncommon before the age of 40, and increases in incidence after that age.

Normally, a diet with adequate fibre produces stool that is bulky and can move easily through the colon. If a diet is low in fibre, the colon must exert more pressure than usual to move small, hard stool. This high pressure might push the mucosa against weak spots in the wall to the outer surface forming the diverticulae.

Most people don’t have symptoms. You may have had diverticulosis for years by the time symptoms occur (if they do). When those pouches get inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis in which the patient may get pain in the left lower abdomen, fever, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, nausea and vomiting or bleeding. When pouches are blocked with waste, bacteria builds up causing infection.

Diverticulosis is discovered only when tests such as a barium enema X-ray or a colonoscopy or CT scan are done. The best way to treat diverticulosis is to avoid constipation. Here are some ideas:

  • Eating appropriate amounts of high-fibre foods include whole grain breads, cereals, fruit, vegetables, beans, brown rice.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to ease the transit of the stool inside the colon.
  • Exercise at least two hours a week.
  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when having a bowel movement
  • In case of infection the treatment usually involves advice for liquid diet.

Surgery may be the treatment in case of complicated diverticulitis. Serious complications can occur as a result of the development of perforation of the diverticular wall. If this occurs, intestinal waste material can leak out of the intestines and into the surrounding abdominal cavity causing abscess, peritonitis or obstruction.

Diverticular disease has long been regarded as a disease of western countries. However, there is growing evidence that the rates of symptomatic diverticular disease are on the rise because the eating habits in the developing world are becoming increasingly westernised.

On the other hand, dietary fibre supplementation, though often recommended for patients with symptomatic diverticular disease, is probably more useful as a preventive rather than a therapeutic intervention.

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