Some people develop multiple small pouches in the lining of their intestines (usually in the colon), that protrude through the muscle of the intestinal wall. These pouches, called diverticula, produce no pain or other symptoms, unless they become inflamed or infected. When a diverticular pocket and the surrounding tissue becomes inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis is caused when undigested food or fecal matter lodges in the pouch, causing irritation. This compromises blood flow to the area, making the area susceptible to an invasion by bacteria, thus hampering the bowel's ability to remove waste. This, in turn, results in constipation, diarrhoea, and cramping.
Studies have shown that diverticulitis can run in families, but it is most common among the elderly, whose intestinal lining starts to weaken. Researchers also believe that diet plays an important role: people who eat a low-fibre diet are at increased risk of developing the condition.
Signs and Symptoms
- Sudden onset of diarrhoea and/or constipation (people often alternate between the two conditions during a single episode)
- Severe cramps in the abdomen, particularly on the lower left side
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever with chills
Conventional Medical Treatment
If you have symptoms of diverticulitis for more than two days, or if the pain is extremely severe, Contact your physician immediately. A rectal exam and colonoscopy or CAT scan may be needed to diagnose the condition, since diverticulitis is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome.
Common treatment includes bed rest, stool softeners, a liquid diet, and antibiotics. If you happen to suffer from two or more diverticulitis attacks over a period of one to two years, your physician may suggest surgical removal the involved segment of intestine.
In severe cases, one of the inflamed pouches can rupture, spilling undigested food, bacteria, and fecal matter into the abdominal cavity. This results in peritonitis, a medical emergency that requires intravenous antibiotic therapy and hospitalization.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Nutrition and Supplementation
Fibre is key to controlling this disorder; you need a minimum of 30 grams daily, which can be partially obtained through supplements. During an attack, your healthcare provider may recommend a low-fibre diet until the condition is under control. Water is also important, and you should drink at least 8 8-ounce glasses of quality water daily. Herbal tea, broth, and fresh juice are also beneficial. Liquid prevents toxic waste build-up, which leads to inflammation.
Your diet should contain high levels of protein from vegetable sources and fish. Eliminate dairy products, sugar products, red meat, fried and processed foods, and spices. During an attack, avoid seedy foods, such as berries. (Once your condition stabilizes, however, you can resume eating them.) Try to get vitamin K through diet by eating plenty of green leafy vegetables.
Nutritional supplementation is also important. During an attack, switch to liquid forms for better assimilation. Otherwise, follow these daily suggestions:
- Fibre (as directed on label)-helps prevent constipation
- Vitamin B complex (100 mg 3 times daily)-for proper digestion
- Proteolytic enzymes (as directed on label)-aids digestion and reduces inflammation of the colon
- A prodophilus formula (as directed on label)-heals intestinal wall
- Flaxseed oil (1 tblsp daily)-protects the cells lining the colon wall
- Garlic (as directed on label)-aids digestion and destroys unwanted bacteria
- L-glutamine (500 mg twice daily, with water or juice)-fuels the intestinal cells
- Vitamin K (100 mcg)-a deficiency has been linked to intestinal disorders
- Vitamin A (25,000 IU; do not exceed 8000 IU if you are pregnant)-protects and heals the colon lining
- Vitamin C(3000 to 8000 mg in divided doses)-reduces inflammation; use a buffered form
- Vitamin E (up to 800 IU)-a potent antioxidant
- Gamma orizanol (as directed on label)-aids in healing the intestinal wall
- N-acetyl glucosamine (as directed on label)-aids in healing the intestinal wall
(For an acute condition, take supplements until your symptoms subside. If symptoms persist, seek the advice of your health care provider. For a chronic condition, consult your health care provider regarding the duration of treatment.)
Article courtesy of ArticleBase