Diverticulitis occurs when the walls of the bowels weaken and pooch out creating small protruding sacks (divertculi) and these sacks become inflamed and infected. The majority of cases occur in the sigmoid region, the curved part of the colon just above the rectum, and is sometimes called Sigmoid Diverticulitis. Some feel this happens from the pressure that is built up in the colon from constipation which then causes the fecal matter to get trapped and to build up bacteria and become infected. How diverticula become inflamed/infected isn't totally understood. Others think that there can be an obstruction in the opening of the diverticulum which restricts the blood supply to the area and leads to the inflammation and infection.
Most people with diverticulosis (containing diverticuli sacks) have no major symptoms, though many after being diagnosed with diverticulitis, report a history of bloating, constipation and/or slight abdominal pain or discomfort. If you are experiencing these early warning symptoms you will want to increase your fiber intake, use pre- and probiotics (see our Healthy Bowel Support), increase your physical activity and your daily water intake and use either one of the Diverticulitis Kits or the Healthy Bowel Kit for prevention.
Diverticulitis affects 2.2 million people in America. Diverticulitis and other bowel disorders can be frightening and painful and many feel uncomfortable discussing their issues with others.
A diverticulitis attack generally presents with left-sided pain (though in Asian cultures and some individuals in our culture experience right-sided pain), bloating, gas, bowel changes, blood in the stool, fever and abdominal tenderness. There can also be nausea and vomiting with cramping and chills.
Acute diverticulitis is when there is a flare up or onset of symptoms. In some individuals this can be a rapid, all-of-a-sudden onset and in others there is a gradual worsening of symptoms. Interestingly, more than 70% of those who have this condition will not suffer from any symptoms. It is estimated that only up to 4% diagnosed with a diverticulitis condition will progress to a state of acute Diverticulitis. Of that 4%, up to 20% of them will have surgery to deal with acute diverticulitis.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis may include:
- Left sided abdominal pain (or tenderness)
- Pain before bowel movement
- Bleeding with stool
- Small, pellet like stools
- Change in bowels