As we get older, the colon tends to develop diverticula, especially on the left side. This common condition is called diverticulosis. Occasionally, one or more of these diverticular openings become inflamed, causing moderate to severe abdominal pain. This is known as diverticulitis, a painful digestive problem. Medication is used to soften stools and relieve symptoms of diverticulitis during the recovery period.
Diagnosis and treatment
When you begin to feel pain, your doctor will make a preliminary diagnosis of diverticulitis. If the diagnosis is confirmed by a specialist of the colon and rectum, and there are no other conditions present such as in colon cancer, a medical treatment will be introduced.
As a general rule, a smooth and easy bowel movement is helpful in relieving the passage of stool through the colon. In cases of diverticulitis, a doctor will usually prescribe antibiotic and bowel rest to the patient to help resolve the inflammation. Patients should avoid eating solid foods for a period of time to allow the colon to stop its normal propulsive contractions. This helps to cure diverticular inflammation. Hospitalization and antibiotics given intravenously are sometimes required.
As healing progresses, patients can begin to consume clear liquids, progressing to a diet low in residue and fiber. Foods like eggs and other soft foods are easy to digest and are not as difficult to process for the colon that is in recovery. When the doctor is satisfied with the progress of a patient, a more regular regular diet promoting soft stools can be resumed.
As the colon heals, a diet with a more normal amount of fiber will begin. Patients should consume approximately 30 grams of fiber each day to promote an easy stool passage. It is assumed, although not proven, that this type of diet can prevent the onset of diverticulosis or may decrease the frequency of episodes of diverticulitis.
Leaving aside the fact that a diet rich in fibers prevents or diverticulosis or diverticulitis, a movement of easy and soft intestine has many benefits over hard, painful and difficult movements. People do not usually consume enough fiber in Western diets, but paying attention to the amount of fiber in the food can help achieve adequate fiber intake.
Read the labels on food packages to see information about fiber content.Most cereals have approximately the same amount of fiber, but the nutritional information found in the box or package, although correct, can be misleading because of the portions. Over-the-counter fiber products are another reliable source for fiber supplements. Their measurements are usually accurate and easy to understand. Although fruits and vegetables contain fiber, the precise amount varies between foods and is difficult to quantify. Raisins, although they initiate bowel movements, actually contain natural chemical laxatives and are not a good source of fiber.
Laxatives are not a substitute for normal fiber intake. A colon and rectal specialist (formerly known as a proctologist), or a nutritionist can be helpful in guiding patients towards nutritional habits for colon health.
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