Diverticulitis is the swelling or inflammation that causes pouches in the intestinal wall. It is a common digestive problem and can affect any part of the digestive system, such as the esophagus, small intestine or the stomach, although it is commonly found in the large intestine. There are several treatments, including antibiotics.
According to the University of Maryland, more than half of adults over 70 have diverticulitis, but 80 percent of them do not have symptoms. Perforations or holes in the intestinal wall occur in approximately 15 to 20 percent of those with diverticulitis.
There are many symptoms of diverticulitis, such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel function, fever, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, constipation and abdominal pain. Some people experience bloating or bleeding from the rectum.
Many people find out that they have diverticulitis because of a routine medical exam or during a test due to intestinal problems. A doctor will probably obtain a blood sample of your white blood cells to check if there is an infection. The diagnosis of diverticulitis is often made after a CT scan of the abdomen. A CT scan will be able to assess the severity of the diverticulitis. An endoscopy is typically not advised because of the risk of perforating the bowel.
A doctor will prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria that causes the infection. Do not stop taking your medication if you begin to feel better, as the infection can come back. To reduce some of the pain, a doctor might recommend taking Tylenol or other medication. In some cases, diverticulitis leads to a bowel instruction and can require hospitalization. Some may need surgery to remove the diseased parts of the bowel or even drain the abscess.
Some of the common antibiotics prescribed for diverticulitis include ciprofloxacin, metronidazole, cephalexin and doxycycline. Antibiotics will help to kill bacteria that are present in the gastrointestinal tract.
The side effects of antibiotics prescribed for diverticulitis often include nausea, changes in appetite, headache, vomiting, skin rash and fever.
A diet high in fiber from vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains can reduce abdominal pain, bloating, and retention. Fiber helps to absorb water and decrease waste in the colon. If you do not drink enough water, fiber can cause constipation. Exercise also promotes healthy bowel function and can reduce the pressure placed on the colon.