There are three different types of diverticular disease. They each have different levels of severity. Diverticular disease comes from the formation of small sacs that line the intestine. These sacs may be large or small. Depending on the type of diverticular disease you have, you may or may not have any symptoms. The size of the sacs has the potential to affect bowel movements and cause pain. Diverticular disease is typically caused by pressure put on the intestine, but there may also be other risk factors involved. Diverticular disease cannot be cured, but it can be prevented.
Categories of Diverticular Disease
Diverticular disease has three categories: Diverticulosis, Diverticulitis, and Diverticular bleeding. The sacs that form in the intestine are also called diverticula which give the disease its name. In diverticulosis, the diverticula form from pressure put on the intestine by gas, liquid, or waste. It may also be caused by the strain you put on your intestine when trying to push during times of constipation. Diverticular disease is the precursor for both diverticular bleeding and diverticulitis.
Diverticular bleeding is a result of blood vessels that burst. There is typically an injury that happens near the diverticula. The injury leads to bleeding which can be seen in the bowel. Diverticulitis results from an infection in the diverticula. The infection is a result of the waste blockage. The infection leads to inflammation. It does not just affect one of the sacs; it affects multiple sacs in the intestine. Diverticulosis is not typically severe, but when it develops into bleeding problems or infection, you will need medical attention.
Diverticulosis is not a disease we hear a lot. Surprisingly, it is a very common disease affecting the older population. Most people do not have symptoms, so it never gets diagnosed. Once symptoms begin, that is when a person goes to the doctor. There are usually no symptoms at all of diverticulosis. Blood in the stool is a result of diverticular bleeding. It may or may not be accompanied by pain. Sometimes fatigue sets in when bleeding are extensive. The more you bleed, the more iron you lose which affects your energy level. Diverticulitis causes the most symptoms. Diverticulitis causes fever, cramping, and a mix of diarrhea and constipation. You may think you have food poisoning but after a diagnosis, the doctor will confirm diverticular disease.
It is important to see a doctor!
Diverticular disease may not necessarily be serious, but it can cause some serious complications. For instance, diverticular bleeding may lead to an extreme iron deficiency or the need for a blood transfusion. The blood vessel that is bleeding must be fixed. Diverticular disease may also cause tears and holes in the intestinal wall. This is a very serious condition because waste is not meant to spread throughout the body. Leakage of bodily waste makes you extremely sick. Abdominal cavity infections may result. An abscess may also grow on the intestinal wall. The colon may even become blocked. When you have infections in the intestine, scarring occurs which then leads to the production of scar tissue. Scar tissue may cause a complete blockage of the bowels. Anytime you are unable to use the bathroom; you must seek treatment. Waste is not meant to sit in the colon.
Diverticular disease is diagnosed with certain diagnostic tests. A colonoscopy and rectal exam help the doctor see the sacs that have formed in the intestine. These exams also help the doctor see the size of the diverticula. X-rays and CT scans may be ordered if the first tests do not confirm a diagnosis. A blood test is used to confirm infection. Angiography is a test that views the blood vessels. When bleeding is extensive, the doctor has to find the source of the bleeding to treat it.
Treatment for diverticular disease is dependent upon the severity of the problem. If bleeding is involved, the important thing is to stop the bleeding. Sometimes that is the only treatment necessary. Anytime you are dealing with diverticulitis; you will need antibiotics. The antibiotics will kill the bacteria in the intestine. If an abscess occurs, the doctor will have to drain the abscess. Sometimes surgery is necessary in more serious cases. The surgeon may have to remove part of the colon that is infected. A surgeon may also clean out the colon if there is a blockage.
Diverticular disease can be prevented when you make good habits in your eating and exercising. Whenever you are dealing with constipation, try not to strain too much. That can create those diverticula. Having regular bowel movements also help. When the colon is clean, you are at a lower risk of other infections. You could have diverticular disease and not even know it. When you start experiencing symptoms, you should get checked out right away. When diverticular symptoms show up, it typically means you are at risk of bleeding or infection. Get ahead of the situation and don’t allow diverticula to take over your colon.
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