One of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) disorders that affects people as they age is diverticulitis. It occurs when pouches, called diverticula, form at the end of your digestive tract in your colon. When the pouches get infected, you have an often painful condition called diverticulitis.
At Desert West Surgery in Las Vegas, Nevada, we specialize in GI conditions, and our team of surgeons has extensive experience performing GI surgeries. In this blog, they answer some frequently asked questions about diverticulitis to understand the condition and how it can affect you.
What are the symptoms of diverticulitis?
Some signs that you may have diverticulitis include:
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
Another telltale symptom of diverticulitis is blood in your stools.
What causes diverticulitis?
When your diverticula become infected, many doctors and researchers believe these things are to blame:
- Low-fiber diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- NSAID medications
Genetics are also closely linked to diverticulitis. If you have a close relative with the condition, you’re at higher risk for getting it.
How is diverticulitis diagnosed?
Your GI doctor works with you to determine if your pain and other symptoms are indeed caused by diverticulitis. To make an accurate diagnosis, you’ll answer questions about your diet and lifestyle habits and take a few tests, such as:
- Blood test
- Urine test
- Liver enzyme test
- Stool test
- Barium enema
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
Most cases of diverticulitis are diagnosed during a severe attack when the problem is most apparent.
How is diverticulitis treated?
GI doctors recommend many ways to reduce your risk and manage your condition:
- Increase your fiber intake
- Include probiotics in your diet
- Take anti-inflammatory medication
- Short-term liquid diet
Thankfully, in the majority of cases, diverticulitis can be resolved without surgical intervention. However, about 15-25% of people with acute diverticulitis need surgery. In severe cases, when there is chronic bleeding, infection, perforation, or diseased pouches, our team recommends needle drainage or surgery, yet we always take the most conservative approach. Suppose we determine that surgery is the best path to healing for you. In that case, we will opt for the most minimally invasive option so that your recovery is faster than traditional surgery.
For a complete evaluation of your gastrointestinal disorder and to get relief from your pain, lean on our team here at Desert West Surgery. Call the location closest to you, or book your appointment online.