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Unveiling the Mystery of Acute Diverticulitis

Do you know what Diverticulitis is? Worse, are you aware that you might be suffering from it and not even know it?

Acute Diverticulitis is the serious or severe swelling or inflammation of the abdominal pouch also called the diverticulum in the intestine wall. This medical condition was first recognized in the early 1880’s and is considered an upshot of a low fiber diet for a prolonged period of time.

Acute Diverticulitis is extremely common among Americans over the age of 40 with a staggering 60% of the population experiencing some form of the symptoms by the age of 85. Diverticulitis occurs more often in the western developed countries, interestingly with most disorders on the left side of the colon while the disorders occur on the right side of the colon in Asian individuals.

Acute Diverticulitis starts when harmful bacteria that are produced by undigested food or fecal material are retained in one or more diverticula and creates an infection which in turn leads to inflammation and further worsens with the formation of abscesses i.e. a perforated colon.

The infected material inside the colon could further spill out through these perforations into the abdominal cavity causing life-threatening peritonitis which is the inflammation in the tissue lining the abdominal cavity called peritoneal tissue.

Other problems that could arise from acute Diverticulitis are the constriction of the colon which stops bowel movements and the development of fistulas or abnormal connections between organs.

The symptoms associated with acute Diverticulitis are acute abdominal pain due to the fistulas developing between bladder and colon leading to urinary tract infections and scars in the colon, fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, cramping and constipation and weight loss.

Because these symptoms could very well indicate alternative diseases other than Diverticulitis, it is necessary that the patient be diagnosed correctly at the soonest as the symptoms can become severe very quickly and cause life threatening complications.

There are many tests for diagnosing acute Diverticulitis. The prominent tests showing Diverticulitis include abdominal palpation, CT scan, and a high white blood cell count.

There is no need to panic if the disease is diagnosed early and can be treated effectively with antibiotics that kill the dangerous bacteria. Some antibiotics that are prescribed for acute Diverticulitis are Ciproflaxin (Cipro), Metronidazole (Flagyl), Cephalexin (Keflex), and Doxycycline (Vibramycin). These antibiotics sometimes come with their share of side effects which are seen in some people in the later stages of treatment.

If antibiotics cannot do the trick, physicians will try the next best treatment of either inserting a needle attached to a catheter into the infected diverticula abscesses in order to drain them. However, if a person is diagnosed in a far advanced stage, surgical intervention becomes inevitable involving removal of the infected portion of the colon.

As the popular saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, it is very much true in the case of acute Diverticulitis too. The best way of avoiding this condition is by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain types of food that are good sources of fiber. If this is not possible then one should at least resort to regularly incremented intake of fiber supplements.