Diverticulitis Symptoms
Understand the Disease Process

Learning which diverticulitis symptoms need immediate attention can help save the life of your elderly loved one.

Unfortunately, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal cramping, especially left lower abdominal pain, are the primary symptoms of diverticulitis.

It can be difficult to distinguish normal changes in bowel habits from the serious complications that can arise from untreated diverticulitis.

Studies report that the risk for increases with age, and approximately 50% of adults over the age of 60 have evidence of diverticular disease.

Diagnosis of diverticular formation is usually made during a colonoscopy. Many of those people have no symptoms at all, but once a diagnosis is made, steps can be taken to prevent the more serious complications.

Once a diagnosis is made, preventing constipation should be your main focus.

Causes of Diverticulitis Symptoms

The colon is a long, cylinder shaped organ that stores and eventually eliminates waste from the body. When a portion of that wall weakens, a pouch can develop, leading to abdominal pain.

If the pouch, or diverticula, gets infected or ruptures, it can lead to serious complications, including fever, systemic infection, internal bleeding and erosion of the colon and bladder.

The most serious complication is death.

People with a high fiber diet seem less likely to develop diverticulitis and the disease itself is almost nonexistent in areas such as Asia and Africa. It is believed that passing small, hard stools increases the pressure within the colon. That increase in pressure, over time, can lead to the weakening of the wall of the colon.

The use of narcotic pain and diuretic (water pill) medications is typically associated with constipation, so take extra care if your loved one is on any of these medications.

Identify the Symptoms

Anytime your elderly family member complains of acute abdominal pain, it is a serious situation, especially if associated with constipation or diarrhea.

Notify your doctor immediately if constipation is associated with severe abdominal pain or rectal bleeding.

Maroon colored stools are another symptom of bleeding from the pouch as the most common location of diverticula formation is in the lower colon.

If the severe abdominal pain is associated with large amounts of loose maroon colored stools, it is a medical emergency and you will need to call your doctor right away.

Because the most common location of diverticulitis is in the sigmoid colon, the abdominal pain associated with it is usually lower left abdominal pain.

Prevention of Diverticulitis Symptoms

The best way to prevent severe symptoms is to eat a high fiber diet. There is nothing that can be done to reverse the pouches once they develop, so the focus must be on preventing infection and rupture of the existing pouches and attempting to prevent the development of more pouches.

Some doctors also recommend avoiding foods like nuts, seeds and corn in the belief that they can get stuck in the pouches and lead to infection.

Avoiding other foods that cause constipation may help as well.

During an acute attack, it is advisable to consume a liquid diet to avoid any straining or constipation and allow the colon to rest.

Once you understand what is causing the diverticulitis symptoms, you can understand how serious this situation can be.

If you have any doubt whatsoever, contact your elderly loved one’s doctor immediately.

This is never a situation that should be left untreated.

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