Diverticulitis is a painful disease which occurs in the large intestine or bowel. Most websites explain the basics, but don’t fully explain the underlying causes, and how the condition can be cured. This page explains the condition, home remedies, treatments and possible cures – in plain language.
What Is Diverticulitis?
Each patient’s case is different. Typically it is a bacterial infection in your large intestine. The infection occurs because small dimples form in your large intestine, which become a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Put another way, “your pipes aren’t smooth”. They are trapping bacteria that should be coming out in your poo. The bacterial infection is causing you the pain.
What Causes Diverticulitis?
This disease is quote common, in particularly with people over 50 years old. In fact more than half of people over 70 years old have the condition. You might have the condition and not even be aware. It can appear as a slight stitch of feeling of discomfort on the left side of your abdomen. It can extend down towards your pelvic region.
It is often believed a low fiber diet is the case. However, new research suggests the condition isn’t caused by low fiber alone – it’s more that fiber controls intestinal bacteria. So if you have a diet low in fiber, you’re more likely to have bad bacteria in your digestive system. There is not just one cause. It’s a combination of factors, including genetic.
IN PLAIN LANGUAGE: If you eat all the wrong foods, and do all the wrong things for your body, harmful bacteria can overwhelm your digestive system. The bacteria gradually erodes your intestinal walls. The eroded walls become pockets and homes for bad bacteria. The infection gets worse, and that’s what diverticulitis is. Your body will struggle to clear the infection because your self-abuse of your body made a nice home for bacteria.
Symptoms of Diverticulosis
You may not have any noticeable symptoms like pain. You may feel ongoing discomfort instead, but have accustomed to the sensation. Below are typical symptoms:
- Boated feeling in your abdomen.
- Diarrhea, constipation or abnormal stools.
- Blood in your faeces (in more severe cases, this can occur if the infection is close to a blood vessel)
- General weakness or fatigue (because infection can adversely affect your entire body)
- Anaemia (if you are bleeding internally)
Some of these symptoms are similar to bowel cancer, but diverticulitis is more common condition. Proper diagnosis is required to confirm your condition.
- Pain on the left side of your abdomen. Usually it occurs at a specific point, but it can seem to move around if the infection covers a wide area. It will still be on the left side. It can be just under the left side of your rib cage, or low almost to your pelvic region. It can almost feel like a stitch.
- Fever and high temperature (sign of infection)
- Bloated feeling throughout your abdomen.
- Nausea, fatigue or feeling generally unwell.
Diverticular Disease Complications
The condition can become serious if left untreated. Complications include:
- Perforation: an abnormally weakened area of your intestine or bowel may rupture, causing the infection to worsen.
- Abscess: This is a ball of puss and bad bacteria.
- Peritonitis: This is a life threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. It is a serious infection in the membranes that line your abdominal cavities. If it reaches this stage, you’ll be feeling terrible.
- Hemorrhage: This is internal bleeding. There may be other causes of the bleeding, so you’ll need accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Diverticular Disease
Diverticulosis often doesn’t have any symptoms, so you may not even know you have it. It’s usually only discovered during examinations for other conditions like cancer. But diverticulitis is the more severe condition where you’ll feel pain and have noticeable symptoms.
Steps for diagnosis include:
- CT Scan: This can reveal the extent and areas of infection.
- Blood tests: to check for infection.
- Colonoscopy: call it a medical procedure. But basically they put a camera up your butt. Having a direct look at what’s going on up there is a sure way to diagnose.
- Radioactive barium enema: a contrast dye is flushed into your anus, and x-rays are taken.
- Examination of medical history and diet: To determine if you’ve followed dietary patterns and a lifestyle consistent with other sufferers.
- Stool testing: To check for presence of blood in stools, or the presence of infections.
Don’t rely on web searches, and don’t try and self-diagnose. Don’t freak out thinking there might be cancer. Just get your butt to the doctor and ask to be diagnosed asap.
Short-Term Treatments and Remedies for Diverticulitis
Once you’ve been diagnosed, it;s time to treat it.
- No eating or drinking: this is in most severe cases. You need to properly rest your digestive system, which means stop putting things through you that add to bacteria. You’ll be given intravenous fluids.
- Antibiotics: usually given intravenously. This will deal with the immediate infection, and you may be in hospital for a day or so depending on the severity of the infection.
- Pain medication: Sometimes the pain can be excruciating. Your doctor will give you suitable medication to deal with whatever pain you experience. It’s a temporary fix though.
- Colostomy: This is surgery where diseased parts of your large intestine or bowel are removed. It’s as serious as it gets, and only done in most serious cases.
Can You Cure Diverticulitis?
The bad news is diverticular disease it’s pretty much a permanent condition. After all, the walls of your large intestine have become messed up. Imagine a pipe with a series of dimples and pockets in it, which aren’t so easily repaired.
The good news is most of the time, the solution is simple home remedies that deal with any infection. And in many cases, the condition can be reversed enough so you’ll have no infection or pain. This will be explained further down the page.
First let’s start with the typical advice you’ll get from doctors:
- Eat a more balanced diet: you’re probably not having enough fiber and greens. Gradually change your diet to be more balanced and healthy.
- If you find it easier, try a fiber supplement. But make sure it’s fully organic, and without sugar, preservatives or artificial sweeteners – which may cause further long-term problems.
- Drink ample water. Avoid tap water, because it has many pollutants like chlorine and metals. In most cases, the best practical source of clean water with a reverse osmosis filtration system. Clean water has countless health benefits. But at the very least, it helps clear your digestive tract of bacteria.
- Do regular exercise: how many times have you heard this? You should walk for about 30 minutes each day. If you don’t have time, make time. Change your daily schedule. Change whatever you need in your life so the time to walk or do exercise is practical.
- Avoid alcohol: This can be a big one. You may need to lay off the alcohol for a month, to give yourself time to heal. Then if you start drinking again, don’t go overboard.
Home Remedies That Work
In addition to the typical advice from doctors, there are simple remedies that may be all you need.
Bacteria-Killing Soup Recipe
Have this once a day until you clear your infection, and after around 4 days you should be relatively pain-free. Of course it will depend on other things you’re putting in your body.
- 1 x server of pumpkin soup (or whatever other soup you want)
- 2 x heaped tablespoons of finely chopped oregano leaves
- 1 x heaped tablespoon of freshly minced garlic
- 1 x flat teaspoon of tumeric
Mix it all in a bowl, heat in the microwave and serve.
This recipe works wonders because especially the oregano and garlic have a powerful natural anti-bacterial effect. It’s like flushing out your negative bacteria.
But be careful not to over-do it because you can throw out the balance between good and bad intestinal bacteria.
Get yourself some quality probiotic tablets from your chemist.
Foods To Avoid
- Anything high in sugar: almost every processed food has added sugar. Read the labels.
- Red meat: it leads to higher levels of bacteria.
- Milk, cheese and other dairy.
- Fried foods.
- Refined grains.
- Coffee: it can imbalance intestinal bacteria. At the very least, reduce your intake.
- Any foods high in fat.
Earlier advice suggested patients avoid foods with small particles, like seeds. But there is no evidence this worsens diverticulitis. It was believed small particles of food can become trapped in intestinal pockets. But the problem is more the pockets become breeding grounds for bacteria.