Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive tract where pockets (called diverticula) form along the walls of your digestive tract and the inner layer of your intestines push through weak spots in the outer lining. Although digestive problems are common in older age (40+), diverticulitis is something that could turn serious pretty quickly.
While some people might go months or years without ever experiencing symptoms of diverticulitis, the risk comes with an increased likelihood of forming an infection. Although the infection is treatable, it can also be prevented with diet and lifestyle changes.
Symptoms Of Infection or Inflammation And Treatment
Common symptoms of diverticulitis include:
- Pain, generally felt in the lower left side of the abdomen but may occur on the right (especially in people of Asian descent).
- Abdominal Tenderness
Common risk factors include some of the usual suspects, such as obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, and of course, poor diet. It’s never too late to start combatting your chances of getting diverticulitis by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
If you are going to take on tasks like quitting smoking or exercising more, start small and take these items one day at a time. However, if you feel as though you are at a greater risk because of your previous health decisions, then starting with your diet is a great first step.
Changing your diet can help a lot with prevention when it comes to diverticulitis infections. Stick to foods high in fiber (like beans, vegetables, and fruit) that increase the bulk of your stool and create more consistent bowel movements. One important thing to note: if you’ve already had an infection from diverticulitis, then avoiding foods high in fiber for a bit is actually more beneficial (more on this later).
Some foods to avoid if you’re at risk of diverticulitis include those high in fat and sugar, such as red meat, refined (modified) grains, full-fat dairy, and deep-fried foods as these are hard on the digestive tract. Harder foods like nuts, popcorn, and seeds run the risk of tiny particles getting lodged in pouches, which could cause an infection.
If you do experience the symptoms of an infection, see your doctor immediately. Depending on how severe of an infection, you might require antibiotics or other forms of treatment.
Post-infection is usually a liquid diet at first of water, fruit juices, and broths. After that, you’ll start easing in with foods low in fibers, such as white bread, pasta/rice, canned or well-cooked vegetables, and fruits without skins/seeds; as well as tender meats, fish, eggs, and tofu for protein and milk-based foods such as yogurt or cheese.
Dealing with diverticulitis is no easy task, but manageable with time. Check-in with your doctor to see not only if you’re at risk, but the specific steps you should take based on your health if so. As prevention is key, the sooner you knock this out, the sooner it can become an afterthought, giving you a better peace of mind moving forward.