There are multiple issues that bring patients to our office at West Gastroenterology Medical Group. Some of these issues are severe while other are simply just results of diet choices or aging. One of the most common conditions we see in patients, however, is diverticulosis. So what is it and how do you know if you are suffering from the symptoms it causes?
Diverticulosis is a condition that causes small pockets or pouches to form in the lining of the digestive tract. These pouches form when the inner layer of the tract pushes through weaker parts of the outer layer. Most often these occur in the lower part of the colon. There can be anywhere from one pocket to many depending on the severity of each individual’s case.
So who is mostly commonly affected by diverticulosis? There is one group that is at risk more so than others. Nearly 50% of people over 60 years old and nearly everyone over 80 years old is likely to have at least one diverticulum(pocket) in their colon. This occurs because as you age, the digestive tract becomes more prominent and the outer layer becomes weaker.
Doctors also believe that diverticulosis can be connected to people who have a diet that is low in fiber. This occurs because a lack of fiber can cause constipation which puts increased pressure on the digestive tract. The combination of this pressure and the straining that comes with constipation, is very possibly leading to diverticulosis in some cases.
While the majority of people do not experience noticeable symptoms when they are suffering from diverticulosis, the frequency of which it is found during routine gastroenterological exams is staggering. In rare cases however, diverticulosis can cause a person to experience abdominal pain, as well as bloating and constipation. When this happens, treatment is not invasive. In fact, doctors will likely recommend that their patient simply ingests more fiber on a daily basis.
There are limited instances where diverticulosis causes further complications in those who are suffering from it. In these cases, the diverticulosis may lead to complications like inflammation, infection, intestinal blockage and bleeding as well as nausea, vomiting, chills and shaking. This is often caused by the diverticulosis not being treated and an abscess forming outside of the colon wall. When this occurs, antibiotics and likely a brief stint in the hospital is required. In rare cases, surgery is required to remedy the problem.
The best way to ensure that you do not have diverticulosis or that it is not getting out of control, is to have an annual exam as you age. As we mentioned previously, the majority of cases of diverticulosis are found when people go in for a colonoscopy or other routine gastroenterological procedure. If you need to make an appointment for an exam, contact the professional at West Gastroenterological Medical Group today. We can see what is happening in your colon and make sure you remain as healthy as possible from here on out.