Many people suffer from intestinal disorders. This condition causes diverticula, usually in the large intestine. These are caused by great pressure in a certain part of the intestine. This can cause complaints, but in most cases it is hardly noticed. 30% of people over 50 and 60% of people over 70 have diverticulosis.
With diverticulosis, people suffer from diverticula in the large intestine, but sometimes also in the small intestine and the esophagus. These are bulges that are caused by great pressure in a certain part of the intestine. This is due to the intestine’s own peristalsis, which creates weak places in the intestinal wall. This is where the diverticula arise. These are almost never noticed, because they hardly cause any complaints. It is often discovered by chance when examining the colon. Sometimes people experience complaints such as abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, a swollen abdomen, flatulence and diarrhea or constipation. Diverticula are harmless and cannot become malignant.
The biggest cause of diverticula is a low-fiber diet. That is why it is a lot more common in Western countries. Fiber is found in (whole grain) grain products, vegetables and fruit. Lack of exercise can also be a cause. Insufficient fiber and exercise can cause constipation, also known as constipation. Increased pressure is created in the intestine, which results in the formation of diverticula. Weak spots probably develop around the intestinal wall as we age, making older people more likely to develop diverticula.
Diverticulitis is a condition that occurs when one or more diverticula become inflamed. 10-30% of people with diverticulosis develop diverticulitis. The risk of inflammation of a diverticulum is greater if you smoke, exercise little and eat little fiber, are overweight and use NSAIDS (painkillers that can irritate the intestinal wall, such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen). Diverticulitis is harmless, but if not treated properly the intestine can burst open at the site of the inflammation, which is called an intestinal perforation. Stool may then end up in the abdominal cavity. This is very harmful because it causes peritonitis. This causes severe complaints.
Diverticulitis is harmless (if peritonitis does not develop), but usually causes complaints.
- Abdominal pain and cramps, some days worse than others, often on the left side
- Unusual stools
- Nausea, sometimes with vomiting
- A swollen stomach
- Blood loss from the anus because a small blood vessel in the diverticulum ruptures.
There are no medications for diverticulosis. It is important that the stool remains flexible, so that there is less chance of stool remaining in bulges. This can be done by eating a fiber-rich diet, drinking plenty of water and getting enough exercise. The stool can then pass through the intestine more easily.
Diverticulitis can go away on its own. Eating enough fiber and exercise is also important for diverticulitis. In case of severely inflamed diverticula, a liquid diet may be advised, which allows the intestine to rest. In case of severe complaints, antibiotics can be prescribed, together with a product that softens the stool. If peritonitis develops, it is recommended to undergo surgery to remove a piece of the colon. In some cases, a temporary stoma is provided, an artificial exit for the stool.