A Startling Fact About Diverticulitis

Living with diverticulitis is challenging enough without believing misinformation that could put more obstacles in your way. It turns out that medical experts are now questioning some long-held assumptions about this condition.

As you may know, diverticula are pouches that develop in the large intestine, and they become more common with age. While these growths are often harmless, they can sometimes become inflamed and infected, causing a condition known as diverticulitis. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.

One of the most surprising revelations comes from a University of Michigan study that found that, while surgery for diverticulitis has increased as much as 30% in recent years, such aggressive treatments are frequently being overused.

Experts now recommend evaluating each case individually, and paying more attention to diet and other lifestyle choices.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diverticulitis, take a look at what you can do to find relief.

New Facts about Diverticulitis:

1. Examine your lifestyle. Antibiotics and surgery may be necessary if you’ve had two or more episodes of diverticulitis in a six-month period or other severe symptoms. Otherwise, modifying your lifestyle and diet may be the most effective course.

2. Know your risks. Diverticulitis may also be less common than previously thought. Recent studies suggest that only about 4% of patients with diverticula will go on to develop diverticulitis, as compared to earlier estimates of 10 to 25%.

3. Go nuts. Doctors used to advise patients to avoid nuts and seeds because they might irritate the intestines. However, research has not supported these warnings, so you may be able to indulge in such healthy treats.

Using Your Diet to Manage Diverticulitis:

1. Eat for recovery. One of the most confusing things about diverticulitis is that after a flare-up, you need to avoid the foods you’re otherwise supposed to eat. Until your intestines heal, your doctor may advise bed rest and a liquid diet, followed by low-fiber fare such as white rice, dairy products, fish, and poultry.

2. Increase fiber. On the other hand, a high-fiber diet is recommended for everyday eating. Good choices include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

3. Limit sugar. Foods high in sugar can also irritate your intestines. You can cut back by avoiding soda and other processed fare, and adding less sweetener to your coffee.

4. Drink water. Staying hydrated will help you to avoid constipation, bloating, and gas while you’re eating all that fiber. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

Other Tips:

1. See your doctor. Many adults are unaware that they have diverticula because there usually aren’t any symptoms unless they become infected. Your doctor can diagnose your condition by performing tests such as a CT scan or colonoscopy so you can receive proper treatment.

2. Check your symptoms. At the same time, there are some distinctive signs you can watch out for. Diverticulitis is sometimes accompanied by pain and cramping on the left side of your abdomen that becomes more intense when touched.

3. Consider medication. There are a number of over-the-counter-and prescription drugs that might help with your recovery. In addition to antibiotics, your doctor may prescribe antispasmodics to relieve abdominal distress and cramps. Stool softeners may also be helpful.

4. Manage your weight. Obesity raises your risk of diverticulitis. Lose excess pounds safely with a balanced, low-calorie diet and regular exercise.

While there is no cure for diverticulitis, your chances for making a full recovery are excellent if you receive proper medical attention. Meanwhile, you can stay active and reduce your discomfort by watching your diet and keeping up with the latest recommendations.

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