There are two types of diverticular diseases: diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is an advanced form of diverticulosis, meaning that a person must first have diverticulosis before having diverticulitis.
The question is, what is diverticulosis? It is a condition referring to the formation of sac cavities along the intestinal wall. These sacs can form anywhere in the intestinal tract, but they occur most commonly in the sigmoid colon.
The outpouching sacs that develop to form diverticulosis are known as diverticula. The formation of a single diverticulum can lead to the development of more of these sacs.
Signs of diverticulosis
Diverticulosis doesn’t show any symptoms until the patient develops complications. The symptoms may include a change in bowel habits and bloating in the abdomen. In some cases, a patient goes for the assessment of other symptoms and ends up getting diagnosed with diverticulosis.
What are the complications of diverticulosis?
Diverticular bleeding is the most common complication that happens when diverticulosis enters into an advanced stage. Diverticula are surrounded by arteries that supply blood to the intestinal tract. The walls of the diverticula become thin over time, leading to the arteries becoming superficial. This weakening of the walls of arteries results in diverticulum ruptures. It can cause bleeding inside the tract.
Diverticulitis is a complication of diverticulosis. It happens due to the inflammation of the diverticula. This condition generally results in abscess or rupture of diverticula.
Another complication of diverticulosis is the narrowing of the bowel wall. This narrowing can result in bowel obstruction. It can result in the waste content getting stuck in the narrowed part of the bowel.
Reasons for diverticulosis
The exact reason for diverticulitis is not fully known, but it is possibly due to the strained bowel movement resulting from constipation. It can cause pressure on the bowel, leading to inflammation that can result in the formation of diverticula.
A significant reason for strained bowel movements is the low-fiber diet. Such diets can result in the stools getting smaller and drier, prompting the intestinal tract to work hard to move the stool. It can cause certain areas of the bowel to herniate.
Reasons for diverticulitis
Diverticulosis is the precursor to diverticulitis, but not every person with diverticulosis will develop diverticulitis.
Typically, the rupturing of diverticula initiates diverticulitis. Low-fiber diet results in the stool staying in the colon for a longer duration. The colon has to work a bit hard to push these hardened stools, which can increase pressure on intestinal walls.
Diagnosis and treatment
Common ways to diagnose diverticulosis and diverticulitis are colonoscopy and CT scan of the abdomen.
In most cases, doctors prescribe IV or oral antibiotics to treat the root cause. A slower introduction of foods to rest the bowel may also help.
In severe cases, the doctor may recommend a colostomy, which involves resection of the diseased section of the bowel. The surgeon will redirect the passage of wastes towards an opening in the abdominal wall. In most cases, the surgeon will disconnect the diseased section of the bowel from the rest of the intestinal tract to give it a chance to heal. Once it recovers, the surgeon will reverse the colostomy through another surgery.