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Treatment for Diverticulitis

Updated on March 20, 2013

Treatment for Diverticulitis

Due to the extreme discomfort that diverticulitis (i.e., ruptured tissue sacs in the colon) can cause, treatment for diverticulitis is highly sought after. For those who may not be aware what diverticulitis is, it is basically a condition that adversely affects the large intestine (colon). The colon itself is a structure with a tubelike shape that processes all waste from foods that have been consumed. As time goes on, certain “pockets” develop in the colon, so that it no longer looks like a tube with smooth sides, but rather like a string of pillows laid side by side. These pockets, or sacs as they’re called, begin to bulge out from the walls of the colon. These bulging pockets are called diverticula (plural) or diverticulum (singular), and the official medical term for this condition is known as diverticulosis. The primary place that diverticula are usually found is in the sigmoid colon (otherwise known as the left colon), but occurrences of diverticula are not limited to that area; they can be located anywhere throughout the colonic wall. There is a slight difference between diverticulosis and diverticulitis which I think is important that we cover here. The simple existence of the bulging sacs in and of themselves is known as diverticulosis, but the actual rupturing and infection of these tissue sacs is known as diverticulitis. A person can have diverticulosis and not feel any type of physical symptoms at all, because although the tissue sacs are bulging out from the intestinal wall, it may not produce any type of pain. But, when a person has diverticulosis, it is because those sacs have ruptured and become infected, and that can (and does) produce definite feelings of pain and discomfort. Internal bleeding can result from diverticulosis, as well as tenderness in the general abdominal area. Other symptoms include sharp abdominal pain and fever; the fever is obviously the body’s mechanism to fight off the infection caused by the ruptured diverticulum. Additional symptoms include constipation, vomiting and harsh abdominal cramps. One important thing to take note of is the fact that not all people who have diverticular disease (diverticulitis) will have any of these symptoms; there are quite a favorable percentage of patients who experience no physical symptoms at all. But for those people who do have the outward evidence of this internal condition, finding a treatment for the pain and discomfort is imperative.

Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art
Image courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art

Diverticulitis: Symptoms and Treatment

The proposed treatments for diverticulitis are primarily dependent upon the severity of the case, and many times how many incidences or attacks of diverticulitis the patient has experienced. For minor cases with few or no physical symptoms present, a liquid-based diet that is low in fiber can be prescribed, along with some standard antibiotics. The low-fiber aspect of the patient’s eating plan is vital due to the “scrubbing” behavior of fiber when it passes through the colon; the last thing you want is any type of exacerbation of the current ruptured condition of the intestinal wall. The average recovery time for minor attacks is anywhere from 2 days to 1 week, so once the condition heals up, the patient can return to eating more fiber-rich foods, but while they’re going through the healing process, it is recommended that they stay clear of all fruits, grains and fiber-heavy vegetables such as beans and so forth. During the healing process, the antibiotics will begin to eliminate the bacteria that caused the infection and the colon can recover back to its normal state. In more severe cases, hospitalization may be required especially if the infection becomes so severe that the damage is basically irreversible. In cases like this, surgery is required to remove the diseased segment of the colon and reconnect it with the surrounding healthy parts; this procedure is called a primary bowel resection, or a Sigmoid resection. The other surgery-based option is reserved for only the most severe cases, where the infection literally begins to be a life-threatening condition; this type of surgery is known as Hartmann’s procedure, or basically a bowel resection and subsequent colostomy. This surgery is performed when the colon has become injured by severe inflammation, to the point where it is no longer safe to rejoin the colon to the rectum. Once the colostomy is performed, it creates a more stable environment that makes it safer to rejoin the rectum to the colon. None of this is comfortable to talk about, but yet thousands of people suffer with this condition, especially in industrialized countries where diets are often made up of refined or processed foods, and severely lacking in fiber. This really can become another strong reminder for us to watch what we eat and make sure to balance our diets with healthy doses of fiber, water, and other colon-cleansing foods to ensure a healthy digestive system. The "preventative method" sure beats the heck out of having to undergo a treatment for diverticulitis.


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    • SteadyHubs profile image

      SteadyHubs 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thank you, rawliving! I appreciate the insight about the alkalizing foods...that's something I honestly haven't looked into in depth, but I definitely want to get more info now.

    • rawliving profile image

      Lynne Duncan 7 years ago

      Hi, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your hub. My mum suffered for many years from diverticulitis and was in terrible pain. It wasn't until I started following an alkaline diet that I realized that it might help her too. After a couple of weeks of eating mostly alkalizing foods her diverticulitis cleared up and it was only when she started eating more processed foods again that she started to get bouts of it again. She is now very strict about what she eats. I hope that helps. You can also read more about alkalizing and diverticulitis in this article: