Defining and Dealing with Diverticular Disease
Doctors believe that diets containing the recommended intake level of fiber can help promote a healthy gastrointestinal system. A common digestive condition is called diverticular disease. There are two forms of this condition. The first form, diverticulosis, is a condition resulting form the formation of pockets, called diverticulum, in the inner layer of the intestine. The second form of the disease, diverticulitis, occurs when these pockets become inflamed due to small pieces of food becoming lodged in them.
What Are the Symptoms of Diverticular Disease?
The symptoms of diverticulosis:
Most people who have diverticulosis will display very few, if any symptoms and have little or no discomfort. If symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Mild cramps
The symptoms of diverticulitis:
The most common symptoms associated with diverticulitis are abdominal pain and tenderness in the left side of the lower abdomen. If infection is present, other symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
How is Diverticular Disease Treated?
In most cases, a high-fiber diet and mild pain medications, are all the treatment that is required for diverticulosis. Increasing your fiber intake may also help reduce your odds of developing diverticulitis. The treatment for diverticulitis focuses on clearing up any infection or inflammation, resting the colon, and minimizing complications. An acute attack of diverticulitis may require a hospital stay and/or surgery to remove the infected section of the colon, depending on the severity of the infection and other complications.
What Foods Should I Avoid to Prevent an Attack?
Certain types of food are more prone to becoming lodged in the small diverticulum pockets, resulting in inflammation and infection. Here is a list of some foods that you might want to avoid or eat in moderation if you have been diagnosed with diverticular disease:
- Nuts and seeds
What Foods Should I Eat to Prevent an Attack?
Eating a fiber-rich diet and staying adequately hydrated each day are two of the best ways to help keep your digestive system in good working order. Some good sources of fiber include:
- Whole-grain breads, muffins and cereals, such as Quaker Oatmeal
- Fresh fruits, such as apples, bananas, or peaches
- Dried or stewed fruits, such as prunes, raisins, or apricots
- Vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, turnips, or potatoes
Learn more at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.