You have a thin lining inside your digestive system. Small bubbles can form in this area when pressure builds up, creating bulges known as diverticula.
It’s fairly common to have diverticula in your colon, especially once you reach age 40. This condition is known as diverticulosis and often comes with few symptoms or complications. However, if one or more of these bubbles become inflamed or infected, you have diverticulitis, which can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and potentially dangerous complications.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, uses advanced laparoscopic techniques to treat severe cases of diverticulitis at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas. He recommends making these lifestyle changes to prevent diverticulitis flare-ups and avoid your need for surgery in the future.
Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are becoming increasingly more common in Western societies. While diverticulosis only affects around 5% of people under age 40, these numbers surge to 50% of individuals over age 60, and by age 80, nearly everyone has the condition. Unfortunately, up to 5% of people with diverticulosis develop diverticulitis, with approximately 200,000 of them requiring hospitalization each year.
The exact cause of these diverticular diseases isn’t known. However, experts believe there is a direct link to not eating enough fiber. Fiber helps prevent waste from building up in your colon, a problem more commonly known as constipation.
When you experience constipation, it puts strain on the walls of your colon, causing diverticula to form in weakened areas of the lining. Once you have diverticula, they can tear or become infected.
Other factors that increase your risk of developing diverticulitis include:
If you have diverticulitis, dietary changes can play a key role in healing your colon and keeping it healthy.
During a flare-up, you should follow your provider's instructions carefully. Flare-ups are usually treated by consuming a clear liquid diet with no solid food. Your provider will tell you when you can begin eating solid food again.
When you no longer have symptoms, you should make it a goal to eat or work your way up to eating 25-30 grams of fiber each day to help keep your stools soft, prevent constipation, and decrease pressure in your colon. Examples of high fiber foods include:
If you aren’t used to consuming a high fiber diet, add these foods gradually to avoid bloating or abdominal discomfort.
Dr. deVilleneuve also recommends drinking at least 8 cups of fluid, preferably water, each day and getting regular exercise. Getting enough water can help keep your stools soft, and physical activity can promote bowel movements, which can help prevent constipation.
Do you have diverticulitis? Learn more about your treatment options by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.