Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Patient information about- Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Compiled by the staff of Community Health Care/Canal Fulton

Diverticulosis is a condition affecting 10% of Americans over age 40 and 50% of those over age 60. Most people with diverticulosis, in fact, don't even know they have it. Diverticulosis, however, can lead to a serious condition called diverticulitis. This information describes both disorders and tells why a diet high in fiber may be helpful in preventing both conditions.

What is DIVERTICULOSIS?
Diverticulosis is a condition rather than a disease. It affects the colon---the flexible tube-like organ responsible for removing water from the contents of the intestines. A normal colon is strong and relatively smooth. A colon affected by diverticulosis has weak spots in its walls. These defects allow the formation of balloon-like "sacs: or "pouches". These pouches, called "diverticulae" (die-ver-tick'-you-lie) occur when the inner intestinal lining has pushed through the weakened areas of the colon wall. A single pouch is called a "diverticula" (die-ver-tick'-you-lah).

What causes DIVERTICULOSIS?
Experts aren't even certain what causes diverticulosis, but it may be related to an increase in the pressure within the colon. The wall thickens with age, and when it contracts, it causes increased pressure that promotes formation of the "pouches" (diverticulae). A second theory relates to nutrition---in western countries (the U.S.), our diets are deficient in dietary fiber. It is felt that this diet results in less bulk in your stool (solid waste), and the colon must narrow and increase pressure in order to move the stool. In countries where there is more fiber in the normal diet, very few people have this problem at all.

What are the symptoms of DIVERTICULOSIS?
Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms at all. Occasionally, one may experience lower abdominal pain or discomfort and rarely may have some painless rectal bleeding.

How is DIVERTICULOSIS diagnosed?
Because diverticulosis usually causes no symptoms, the disorder is usually discovered during an x-ray or intestional examination performed for other reasons.

Does DIVERTICULOSIS require treatment?
Treatment is usually not necessary. Recommendations include:
Fiber-rich diet
Avoid food with seeds, nuts, corn, popcorn, cucumbers, figs, and strawberries. These tend to get stuck in the "pouches" and cause inflammation
Avoid laxatives and enemas, which can irritate the colon if used regularly

What is FIBER?
Fiber is present in all plant foods that have not undergone more than a minimum of commercial processing. There are many kinds of fiber, including celluluse, pectins, and gums. Each is placed in one of two categories--- water-soluable or water-insoluable---depending on its degree of soluability in water. Most plant foods are a combination of both categories.

Why is FIBER beneficial?
Fiber, when taken with adequate amounts of water, causes the stool to become larger, softer, and easier to pass. This helps to prevent constipation and may reduce the risk of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Fiber has been proven to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, reduce the size of hemorrhoids, and lessen hemorrhoidal bleeding.
Additional health benefits are associated with soluable fiber---to reduce high blood cholesterol (a risk factor for heart disease), to improve glucose tolerance in some diabetics, and to help prevent gallstones.

How much FIBER do I need daily?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) has not established a recommended dietary allowance in grams for fiber, but recommends a diet rich in grain products, fruit, and vegetables. Experts in general don't agree on how much dietary fiber is best, but most say that more fiber, from a variety of food sources, should be gradually introduced. Water intake should be increased to at least eight cups a day. One leading authority, the National Cancer Institute, recommends 20-30 grams of fiber a day---about double what the average American take in on a daily basis. Such fiber intake might be all right for healthy adults, but might not be appropriate for children, the elderly, or persons consuming special diets for other reasons.
Fiber intake should be increased GRADUALLY to give the intestines time to adjust to the change. This helps to prevent diarrhea, discomfort, and gas. Don't take the bulk of your fiber all in one meal---unpleasant cramping and unplesant GAS could result. It may take several months to reach the peak amount of fiber.

How does DIVERTICULOSIS lead to DIVERTICULITIS?
Diverticulitis develops when particles of undigested food become trapped in a diverticula (pouch) and cause the pouch to become inflamed or infected. Usually the infection remains in that one spot, but it is possible for the bacteria to break through the colon wall and can cause inflammation of the membrane that covers the abdominal organs. This condition, called PERITONITIS, can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

What are the symptoms of DIVERTICULITIS?
The person with diverticulits may have sharp, sudden pain in the lower abdomen (usually lower left side), with nausea and fever. The pain may be crampy or persistent. If peritonitis develops, additional symptoms, such as pain, fever, distended (swollen, puffed up) abdomen, inability to pass stool or gas, low blood pressure, and increased thirst may be present.

What's the treatment for DIVERTICULITIS?
Treatment may very by severity. For mild cases, the doctor may prescribe bedrest, a liquid diet, painkillers, and antibiotics to combat infection. In other cases, the patient may need to be hospitalized and have IV antibiotics. In the most severe cases, the affected part of the colon may need to be removed, and the healthy ends rejoined. While most people recover from diverticulitis without surgery, if the inflammation extends throughout the abdomen and causes peritonitis, surgery is almost always required. Always report, pain, fever, or bleeding without delay.

(c) Community Health Care

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis


The Normal Colon
To understand diverticulosis, it is first necessary to know a bit about the anatomy and function of the intestine. Food is digested and nutrition absorbed in the 20 feet of small intestine. This is the long, thin segment of bowel that begins at the stomach and ends in the right lower abdomen. After the digestive process is complete, the liquid waste enters the 5 feet of large intestine, or colon, which ends in the rectum. Just above the rectum is the sigmoid (s-shaped) part of the colon where diverticulosis usually occurs. About two gallons of liquid stool enters the right colon each day where excess water is purified and recycled back into the blood stream. The remaining solid waste, or stool, eventually enters the rectum where the waste is stored until it is convenient to have a bowel movement.

What is Diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is a condition, rather than a disease. It affects the large intestine, or colon. A normal colon is strong and relatively smooth. A colon affected by diverticulosis has weak spots in the walls. These defects allow the development of balloon-like sacs or outpouches - much like a bubble forming on a worn inner tube. These hollow pouches, - about the size of a large pea - called diverticulae, occur when the inner intestinal lining has pushed through weakened areas of the colon wall. A single pouch is called a diverticula. Although diverticulosis can occur anywhere in the colon, 80% are found in the lower left side - called the sigmoid colon - because that is where the colon is the narrowest and the inner pressure the highest. The presence of these pouches on the colon is called diverticulosis. When the pouches are inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis.

Who Gets Diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is a common condition affecting both men and women. Since diverticulosis takes so long to develop, it usually appears later in life. It affects over 50 percent of those over age 60. Occasionally it occurs in much younger individuals where it is usually a more aggressive problem. This disorder is mostly one of Western society. It is very rare in rural Africa or India where the diet consists of grains very high in dietary fiber. Many researchers feel that our typical low fiber American diet is responsible for the high incidence of diverticulosis in this country. A diet low in fiber promotes constipation and straining at bowel movements that may worsen diverticulosis.

Complications of Diverticulosis

Considering how many millions of Americans have diverticulosis, it is remarkable that so few people are affected by complications. Diverticula usually don't cause any symptoms unless they become inflamed or infected. In fact, most people with diverticulosis experience no symptoms at all. However, complications do occur and can be serious. These may include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and diverticulitis.
Abdominal Pain
Most diverticular pouches are painless. But, if you have enough of them, they can cause thickening and narrowing of the sigmoid colon. This results in painful spams in the lower left part of the abdomen. When diverticulosis is far advanced, the lower colon may become narrowed and distorted. When this occurs, there may be thin or pellet-shaped stools, persistent bouts of constipation, and an occasional rush of diarrhea.
Rectal Bleeding
Bleeding occurs from a ruptured blood vessel in one of the pouches. This may produce a gush of red blood from the rectum or maroon-colored stools. The bleeding is usually self-limited and stops on its own, but requires careful evaluation and usually a brief hospitalization. Occasionally, emergency surgery is necessary to stop the loss of blood.
Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is a complication of diverticulosis. The colon is home to many beneficial bacteria - helpful as long as they stay within the colon. Sometimes, one of the diverticular pouches becomes thin and ruptures allowing bacteria normally contained inside the colon to seep out through the wall and cause infection on the outside of the colon. When this occurs, it is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can be mild with only slight discomfort in the left lower abdomen - or it can be extreme with abscess formation, severe tenderness and fever. Nobody knows why "osis" becomes "itis," but is probably because bacteria normally present in the colon penetrate the thin walled pouches.
Diagnosis of Diverticulosis

Because diverticulosis usually causes no symptoms, it is usually discovered during an intestinal examination performed for other reasons. This may include tests such as a barium enema X-ray, flexible sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy examination. The later two tests are performed through the rectum with a lighted flexible "scope" and can directly view the colon from the inside providing additional information about the problem. Sometimes, diverticulosis is an incidental finding at surgery or autopsy. Click here to see what diverticulosis looks like during an autopsy.

Does Diverticulosis Require Treatment?

Treatment of diverticulosis varies. If there are no symptoms, treatment is usually not necessary, but a fiber-rich diet is advisable. When diverticulitis occurs, simple bowel rest and antibiotics can usually abort a mild attack. In severe cases, patients may need hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. While most people recover from diverticulitis without surgery, sometimes it is necessary to remove the affected portion of the colon - the healthy ends are then rejoined. The most common reason for surgery is to stop repeated episodes of pain, bleeding, or diverticulitis.

High Fiber Diet

As mentioned earlier, an inadequate diet is considered the leading cause of diverticulosis. Most health experts agree that the lack of fiber and bulk in the diet is the major cause of chronic constipation and diverticular disease. As our foods are becoming more highly refined, more of us are suffering from symptoms of diverticular disease. Once diverticula have formed there is no way to reverse the process. The pouches are there for the rest of your life.

Chances are you are not getting enough fiber in your diet. In fact, most people in the United States average only 10 to 15 grams of dietary fiber a day. Most dietitians, however, use 35 grams of fiber a day as the minimum benchmark for a high-fiber diet.

Adding fiber and bulk to your diet helps promote regular bowel function and is very important in controlling and minimizing this disease. Foods rich in fiber, such as bran cereals, whole wheat breads, a variety of beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables help keep the stools soft and bulky. We all should make an effort to include more fiber, or roughage, in our diet. But, don't be too enthusiastic. That is, do not add too much fiber too soon. Otherwise, troublesome side effects, such as increased gas and bloating, may occur. The golden rule regarding fiber is to go slow. Start with small amounts and gradually increase the extra fiber in your diet.

Many patients ask about seeds. For many years it has been suspected that large seeds (apple seeds, orange pits, watermelon seeds, grape pits, etc.) may become trapped in the pouches and can occasionally cause problems. There is no medical evidence to support this theory, but is has not been studied in a scientific fashion. We tell paients that these fruits may be still enjoyed, but we suggest that they remove the seeds. Smaller soft seeds seem to be harmless. Foods such as nuts and popcorn should be chewed very well to avoid problems.

The following list shows various categories of foods that are high in dietary fiber. The examples given for each category are not all inclusive and similar foods may be substituted. You should try to include foods from each group in your daily diet:
Grains
Bran cereals
Shredded Wheat
Grape Nuts
Ry-Krisp
Whole wheat
Whole rye bread
Graham crackers
Oatmeal
Puffed Wheat
Wheatina

Vegetables
Green peas
Carrots
Winter squash
Broccoli
Brussel sprouts
String beans
Sweet potatoes
Artichokes
Lima beans

Fruits
Pears
Apples
Tangerines
Prunes

(c) http://www.gihealth.com/html/education/diverticulosis.html

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Health Encyclopedia - Diseases

What is the Definition of Diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is a condition where pockets (pouches) form in the large intestine (colon).


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Description of Diverticulosis

The large intestine is a long tube-like structure that stores and eliminates waste material. During normal lower intestinal function, the waste material (stool or feces) is slowly pushed along the large intestine to the rectum by the muscular bands in the colon. As a person ages, this continuous pressure can cause a bulging pocket of tissue or sac (called a diverticulum) that pushes out from the colon wall. More than one sac is called diverticula. Diverticula can occur throughout the large intestine, but are most commonly found near the end of the left intestine (called the sigmoid colon). The condition of having diverticula in the large intestine is called diverticulosis.

When a diverticulum ruptures or becomes infected, this condition is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis develops when a mass of hardened waste matter (called a fecalith) forms in the pouch and reduces the blood supply to the thin walls of the pouch (by means of pressure against the wall), making them susceptible to infection by the bacteria of the colon.



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Causes of Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is rare before the age of 40, but the likelihood of developing this condition increases with passing decades. It is estimated that 30 percent of all people over the age of 45 have diverticulosis; at the age of 60, 50 percent of all people will develop this condition; and by the age of 85, 65 percent of all people will have diverticulosis.

Researchers believe that diverticulosis may be age related, genetically based and most importantly, caused by not enough fiber in the diet. A diet low in fiber can lead to small, hard stools that are difficult to pass and require more pressure to push them through the large intestine. Over time, these vigorous contractions in the large intestine push the inner intestinal lining outward, causing diverticula.


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Symptoms of Diverticulosis

Most people with diverticulosis have few or no symptoms. Doctors refer to diverticulosis with no symptoms as asymptomatic diverticulosis. For people who experience symptoms, the condition is called symptomatic diverticulosis. Symptomatic diverticulosis is categorized into three types - painful diverticulosis, inflammatory diverticulitis (inflamed and infected diverticula) and bleeding diverticulosis (the blood vessel in the wall of the diverticulum ruptures).

Symptoms of painful diverticulosis are:



abdominal pain (usually located in the lower left abdomen) that subsides after a bowel movement or passing gas

constipation, followed by bouts of diarrhea

bloating

Symptoms of inflammatory diverticulitis are:



abdominal pain

constipation

fever

bloating

vomiting

Symptoms of bleeding diverticulosis are:



sudden, mild cramps

urge to have a bowel movement

bright red blood clots and maroon-colored stool

If sufficient blood is lost in a short amount of time, the person may experience:



increased thirst

dizziness

rapid heart beat

fainting


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Diagnosis of Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is often unsuspected and discovered by an x-ray or intestinal examination performed for an unrelated reason. The doctor may see the diverticula through a flexible tube (a colonoscope) that is inserted through the anus. Through this scope, the diverticula may be seen as dark passages leading out of the normal colon wall.

The doctor also may do a barium enema (an x-ray that reveals outpouchings in the walls of the colon). If rectal bleeding occurs, the doctor may take a special x-ray (an angiography). In this procedure, dye is injected into an artery that goes to the colon so that the site of the bleeding problem can be located.



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Treatment for Diverticulosis

If the patient has diverticulosis with no symptoms, no treatment is needed. Some doctors advise eating a special high fiber diet, consisting of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole-grain breads, cereals and bran.

Additionally, adding a fiber supplement (such as Metamucil or Hydrocil) to the diet, and avoiding certain foods with small seeds, such as strawberries, raspberries, whole cranberries and nuts is helpful in treating diverticulosis.


Patients experiencing bloating or abdominal pain may benefit from anti-spasmodic drugs, such as Librax, Bentyl, Donnotal and Levsin.


If this condition turns into diverticulitis, bedrest, antibiotics or hospitalization may be needed. The vast majority of patients will recover from diverticulitis without surgery. Sometimes, patients need surgery to drain an abscess that has resulted from a ruptured diverticulum and to remove that portion of the colon. Surgery is reserved for patients with very severe or multiple attacks. In such cases, the involved segment of colon can be removed and the colon can then be rejoined.



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Self Care for Diverticulosis

Once formed, diverticula are permanent. No treatment has been found to prevent the complication of diverticulosis, however, there are some guidelines that can be followed to manage the condition. They are as follows:

1. Eat a high fiber diet, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, cereals and bran.


2. Avoid foods containing indigestible roughage, such as celery and corn, and use bran to prevent constipation.


1. Avoid straining during bowel movements.


4. Establish a normal bowel routine. Try to have a bowel movement at approximately the same time every day and spend at least 10 minutes in the attempt.


5. Add bulk to stools by eating fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content, such as seedless grapes, fresh peaches, carrots and lettuce.


6. Avoid extremely hot or cold foods and fluids (which cause gas).


7. Avoid alcohol (which irritates the bowel).


8. Lose weight if you are overweight.


9. Exercise moderately.


10. Use natural laxatives (only when needed).


11. Drink at least three (3) to five (5) glasses of water or other liquid per day.


12. Do not smoke (it irritates the gastric mucosa).



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What Questions to ask Your Doctor About Diverticulosis?

How serious is this condition?
What type of treatment do you recommend?

What results should be expected from this treatment?

Will you be prescribing any medication? What are the side effects?

How effective is diet in controlling this disease?

Should a specialist or a nutritionist be consulted?

Will surgery be required? If so, what type?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Diverticulitis: Info & Alternative Treatments

Diverticulitis

Info & Alternative Treatments


You should consult your Doctor if you are taking any medication.

Diverticulitis : High Fiber Diet for Diverticular Disease


A byproduct of our refined eating habits (04.07.98)


Originally published in Mayo Clinic Health Letter , March 1998


Pain in your abdomen. Nausea. Fever. You'd swear this was an attack of appendicitis - except the pain is on the wrong side.


Diverticulitis can feel like appendicitis and be just as serious. That's because the conditions involve similar problems - inflammation of a pocket on your large intestine (although with diverticulitis the pain is usually on the left side rather than the right, as with appendicitis).


As you get older, you're at increased risk for diverticulitis. But the good news is that you may be able to prevent the condition simply by eating a high-fiber diet.


Pressure problem


Your large intestine is a long cylinder of muscles designed to remove water from its contents while moving waste out of your body.


The first part of your large intestine - the cecum and ascending colon - is widest. Contents in this portion are mainly liquid. Next comes the transverse section, followed by the descending colon and sigmoid colon.


The sigmoid section connects to the rectum. By the time material reaches the sigmoid colon, much of the water has been removed and the material is mainly solid.


Diverticular disease develops when weak points in your colon's wall give way under pressure. Small pouches or pockets (diverticula) protrude through the colon wall. This is called diverticulosis.


Diverticula are most common in the sigmoid and descending sections of your large intestine, where more force is required to move stool out of your body.


When one of these pockets becomes inflamed or infected, you have diverticulitis - a painful and potentially serious problem that requires immediate medical care.


Nearly half of Americans older than 60 have diverticulosis. Fortunately, only 15 percent to 20 percent of people with diverticulosis ever develop diverticulitis. Research suggests that one reason older people are more likely to develop diverticula is that as you age, the outer wall of your large intestine thickens, and more pressure is required to move waste out of your body.


What's the cause?


Originally published in Mayo Clinic Health Letter , March 1998


No one can say for sure why or how diverticula become inflamed.


The most accepted explanation is that high pressure causes a tiny rupture in one of the pockets, allowing bacteria normally found in your colon to infect the tissue. That may lead to an abscess.


A commonly held myth is that eating grape seeds, popcorn or even tomatoes can lead to diverticulitis because the seeds may become lodged in one of the diverticula. While seeds aren't the cause, diet does appear to play a role.


Your chance of developing diverticular disease - which can escalate to diverticulitis - seems directly related to the amount of fiber you eat.


Diverticular disease is uncommon in parts of the world where fiber intake is high. It's more widely seen in Western societies where diets typically are lower in fiber and include more meats and refined grain products


When diverticulitis strikes


Diverticulitis can come on rather abruptly. First-time attacks may occur in your 40s or 50s.


Symptoms can vary. You may experience severe cramping and possibly tenderness, usually more so in the lower left side of your abdomen. Or, you may just have persistent mild abdominal pain. Symptoms also commonly include fever and nausea.


Diverticulitis can range from a minor inflammation on your colon to a massive infection or an intestinal wall perforation that requires immediate surgery. For that reason, see your doctor right away if you suspect you have diverticulitis.


Your doctor will likely examine your abdomen for tenderness and get a blood test to determine your white blood cell count (an indicator for infection). Treatment may range from a course of antibiotics at home to hospitalization.


If you undergo treatment at home, expect to remain quiet for a few days. In addition to taking antibiotics, you'll need to restrict your diet to low-fiber foods and avoid whole-grain products and all fruits and vegetables. That's so your colon can rest (reduce its contractions) and heal. Once you're better, you can gradually move toward a high-fiber diet.


Diverticulitis requires hospitalization about half the time. Your doctor may recommend this if there's concern about a possible bowel obstruction or if the risk for peritonitis (per-i-to-NI-tis) seems high. Peritonitis - an inflammation of the lining of your abdominal cavity - can occur when a diverticulum ruptures and allows intestinal contents into your abdomen. Peritonitis may require emergency surgery. Surgery may also be required if antibiotic treatment isn't effective.


Once the infection or inflammation is under control, your doctor may talk with you about elective surgery to prevent another bout of diverticulitis, particularly if you've had more than one episode. Surgery involves removing the portion of your large intestine affected by diverticula. That usually means removing some or all of the sigmoid colon to connect healthy segments.


Diverticulosis is the development of small pockets (diverticula) on your large intestine. When one of these pockets becomes inflamed or infected, you have diverticulitis.



(c)www.althealth.co.uk


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

DIVERTICULAR DISEASE

diverticulosis food to avoid

DIVERTICULOSIS used to be a rare disease; even today, it's almost nonexistent in certain parts of the world. But in the United States over half of the people over 60 have it, and most of them don't even know it. Diverticulosis is really a "lifestyle" disease that's easily prevented by dietary modifications. Unfortunately, by the time most people realize they have it, it's too late and the disease is established. But the good news is that simple changes in the diet will prevent it from ever becoming a serious problem.

Diverticulosis occurs when tiny sacs or pockets, somewhat like little balloons, form overtime on the outer walls of the colon due to pressure from trying to pass stools that are, hard and dry. As you would imagine, people who suffer from chronic constipation often develop diverticulosis. The reason it is so common today is that our diet contains so many refined foods lacking in fiber. Our digestive systems were made to process more bulk than most of us consume, so they work overtime to produce small, hard stools that ultimately stress the colon beyond endurance.

Some people with diverticulosis have no symptoms; others have chronic constipation alternating with diarrhea, gas, and sometimes pain in the lower left side of the abdomen.

Occasionally a bit of fecal matter will become trapped in the little sacs or outpouchings and become infected. This is the more serious stage of diverticulosis called diverticulitis. If this happens, you may develop fever, cramps, and rectal bleeding and you must be treated with antibiotics by a physician.

Some people learn they have diverticulosis when an x-ray is taken for some unrelated complaint, but most people discover it only when they develop diverticulitis. After their bout is cured with the help of antibiotics, they realize that they have to try to prevent diverticulitis from developing again. By taking the proper steps, they can.

Diverticulosis has a simple treatment: fiber. In the old days, even when I was in medical school, it was believed that people with this problem should eat a soft, bland diet so as not to tax the colon. We now know that a bulky diet high in fiber is one that will help the colon do its job.

Many studies have shown that increasing the fiber in one's diet can prevent surgical treatment in roughly 90 percent of patients. Bran supplementation is highly effective. Bran tablets, available in health food stores, are handy. Alternatively, you can use coarse miller's bran. Make sure you don't overdo it; too much fiber all at once can upset your system. Increase your intake gradually over three or four weeks. You can expect some gas in the beginning and perhaps some bloating.

Many of my elderly patients find bran difficult to tolerate. If you have trouble with bran tablets, try psyllium powders, which are available over-the-counter in pharmacies as well as in health food stores. Be sure to take them with plenty of water and adjust the amounts gradually to suit your needs.

It's important to drink lots of fluids--six to eight glasses of water each day--not only in conjunction with the bulking agents like psyllium and bran, but also to fight constipation.

If you have diverticulosis and particularly if you've ever had an attack of diverticulitis, you should avoid eating foods that contain nuts, seeds, and other hard particles such as popcorn. That includes seeds used as toppings on baked goods like poppy seeds and sesame seeds as well as seeds and hard particles inside the food itself like the seeds in zucchini or cucumbers or the grain particles in cracked-wheat bread. These tiny particles could become lodged in the sacs of the colon and become infected, bringing on an attack of diverticulitis.

NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR DIVERTICULAR DISEASE

Adopt a high-fiber diet. This means lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and cereals. Avoid eating processed food: substitute whole grain bread for white, a whole apple for apple Juice.
Add a fiber supplement to your diet. Take psyllium seed bulking agents. Follow the directions on the package and be sure to take with plenty of water.
Avoid constipation and, if you do become constipated, don't use laxatives, if you do experience some constipation, increase your psyllium and water Intake, and if this doesn't work add bran to your diet. You can take it in tablet form, available in health food stores. Take three tablets daily and increase by three tablets every few days until you achieve the desired result. You can also take bran In the form of coarse miller's bran -- a teaspoon a day, increased by a teaspoon every few days. You can also sprinkle it on foods and cereals or mix it into baked foods like muffins and meatloaf. Increase bran Intake gradually over the course of about a month. You can expect some gas and bloating when you first begin.
Drink plenty of fluids every day: from six to eight glasses of water or other fluid.
Avoid eating seeds, nuts, and foods with hard particles that could become lodged in the diverticular sacs, These include strawberries, figs, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, baked goods that have cracked wheat, poppy, sesame, or caraway seeds.

diverticulosis food to avoid

diverticulosis food to avoid

Diverticulosis is a condition where pockets (pouches) form in the large intestine (colon).

Description

The large intestine is a long tube-like structure that stores and eliminates waste material. During normal lower intestinal function, the waste material (stool or feces) is slowly pushed along the large intestine to the rectum by the muscular bands in the colon. As a person ages, this continuous pressure can cause a bulging pocket of tissue or sac (called a diverticulum) that pushes out from the colon wall. More than one sac is called diverticula. Diverticula can occur throughout the large intestine, but are most commonly found near the end of the left intestine (called the sigmoid colon). The condition of having diverticula in the large intestine is called diverticulosis. When a diverticulum ruptures or becomes infected, this condition is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis develops when a mass of hardened waste matter (called a fecalith) forms in the pouch and reduces the blood supply to the thin walls of the pouch (by means of pressure against the wall), making them susceptible to infection by the bacteria of the colon.

Causes

Diverticulosis is rare before the age of 40, but the likelihood of developing this condition increases with passing decades. It is estimated that 30 percent of all people over the age of 45 have diverticulosis; at the age of 60, 50 percent of all people will develop this condition; and by the age of 85, 65 percent of all people will have diverticulosis. Researchers believe that diverticulosis may be age related, genetically based and most importantly, caused by not enough fiber in the diet. A diet low in fiber can lead to small, hard stools that are difficult to pass and require more pressure to push them through the large intestine. Over time, these vigorous contractions in the large intestine push the inner intestinal lining outward, causing diverticula.

Symptoms

Most people with diverticulosis have few or no symptoms. Doctors refer to diverticulosis with no symptoms as asymptomatic diverticulosis. For people who experience symptoms, the condition is called symptomatic diverticulosis. Symptomatic diverticulosis is categorized into three types - painful diverticulosis, inflammatory diverticulitis (inflamed and infected diverticula) and bleeding diverticulosis (the blood vessel in the wall of the diverticulum ruptures). Symptoms of painful diverticulosis are:

abdominal pain (usually located in the lower left abdomen) that subsides after a bowel movement or passing gas
constipation, followed by bouts of diarrhea
bloating
Symptoms of inflammatory diverticulitis are:
abdominal pain
constipation
fever
bloating
vomiting
Symptoms of bleeding diverticulosis are:
sudden, mild cramps
urge to have a bowel movement
bright red blood clots and maroon-colored stool
If sufficient blood is lost in a short amount of time, the person may experience:
increased thirst
dizziness
rapid heart beat
fainting

Diagnosis

Diverticulosis is often unsuspected and discovered by an x-ray or intestinal examination performed for an unrelated reason. The doctor may see the diverticula through a flexible tube (a colonoscope) that is inserted through the anus. Through this scope, the diverticula may be seen as dark passages leading out of the normal colon wall. The doctor also may do a barium enema (an x-ray that reveals outpouchings in the walls of the colon). If rectal bleeding occurs, the doctor may take a special x-ray (an angiography). In this procedure, dye is injected into an artery that goes to the colon so that the site of the bleeding problem can be located.

Treatment

If the patient has diverticulosis with no symptoms, no treatment is needed. Some doctors advise eating a special high fiber diet, consisting of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole-grain breads, cereals and bran. Additionally, adding a fiber supplement (such as Metamucil or Hydrocil) to the diet, and avoiding certain foods with small seeds, such as strawberries, raspberries, whole cranberries and nuts is helpful in treating diverticulosis. Patients experiencing bloating or abdominal pain may benefit from anti-spasmodic drugs, such as Librax, Bentyl, Donnotal and Levsin. If this condition turns into diverticulitis, bedrest, antibiotics or hospitalization may be needed. The vast majority of patients will recover from diverticulitis without surgery. Sometimes, patients need surgery to drain an abscess that has resulted from a ruptured diverticulum and to remove that portion of the colon. Surgery is reserved for patients with very severe or multiple attacks. In such cases, the involved segment of colon can be removed and the colon can then be rejoined.

Self Care

Once formed, diverticula are permanent. No treatment has been found to prevent the complication of diverticulosis, however, there are some guidelines that can be followed to manage the condition. They are as follows: 1. Eat a high fiber diet, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, cereals and bran. 2. Avoid foods containing indigestible roughage, such as celery and corn, and use bran to prevent constipation. 1. Avoid straining during bowel movements. 4. Establish a normal bowel routine. Try to have a bowel movement at approximately the same time every day and spend at least 10 minutes in the attempt. 5. Add bulk to stools by eating fruits and vegetables with a high fiber content, such as seedless grapes, fresh peaches, carrots and lettuce. 6. Avoid extremely hot or cold foods and fluids (which cause gas). 7. Avoid alcohol (which irritates the bowel). 8. Lose weight if you are overweight. 9. Exercise moderately. 10. Use natural laxatives (only when needed). 11. Drink at least three (3) to five (5) glasses of water or other liquid per day. 12. Do not smoke (it irritates the gastric mucosa).

Questions

How serious is this condition? What type of treatment do you recommend? What results should be expected from this treatment? Will you be prescribing any medication? What are the side effects? How effective is diet in controlling this disease? Should a specialist or a nutritionist be consulted? Will surgery be required? If so, what type?