Diverticulitis

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-05-15 (EDT)

Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis.jpg

Diverticulitis
Causes Dietary Factors, Stress, Constipation
See Also Digestive Conditions, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Dysbiosis, Gastritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Books Books on Digestive and Liver Conditions
Articles Articles on Digestive Conditions

In the gastrointestinal tract, diverticula can occur, commonly in the colon when weak spots allow portions of the intestines to bulge outward . This is most common in the sigmoid colon, which is the lower part of the large intestine. Each pouch is a diverticulum and the condition associated with having multiple diverticula is called diverticulosis. Diverticulosis may affect 30-50% of adults over the age of 60 in Western communities,[1] though incidence is increasing among those under the age of 40 years.[2] If diverticula become inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. Together the condition is referred to as diverticular disease.

Naturopathic Assessment

Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. The formation of diverticuli and diverticulitis is commonly associated with lifestyle factors, yet other factors may also come into play. A detailed assessment is required to determine which factors are contributing. Because of the connection between constipation and the onset of diverticular disease, the factors that contribute to the onset of constipation may provide some insight as to the causes of diverticular disease.

Lifestyle

  • A diet low in dietary fiber may be, at least in part, responsible for the development of diverticulosis.[3]
  • A diet high in processed food, including white rice, white bread, most breakfast cereals, crackers, and pretzels increases a person's risk for diverticulitis.
  • Food allergies and food sensitivities are commonly involved in the onset and progression of diverticulosis.
  • Overeating can lead to a diverticulitis attack.
  • Regular and vigorous physical activity is protective against diverticular disease,[4] which may indicate that a sedentary lifestyle predisposes a person to the condition.

Social

  • Increased stress or eating when stressed can increase the likelihood of diverculitis.

Physiology

  • Constipation may increase risk of diverticulosis as this can create increased pressure in the colon and lead to development of diverticula.[5]

Common Questions

  • How often do you have a bowel movement?
  • What are bowel movements like?
  • Have you experienced any involuntary weight loss?

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing is necessary to make a firm diagnosis of diverticulosis or diverticulitis.

  • Imaging Studies include an abdominal ultrasound, abdominal X-ray or a Computed Tomography (CT) scan

Related Symptoms and Conditions

Conditions that are commonly associated with diverticulitis include:

Common Symptoms

It is common for a person with diverticulosis to be asymptomatic, however they may experience:

Symptoms of diverticulitis are more severe and often start suddenly, but they may become worse over a few days. They include:

  • Abdominal pain that is usually described as tenderness often in the lower left side of the abdomen.
  • Pain is typically severe and comes on suddenly, but it can also be mild and progressive over several days

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Diverticulosis is typically a chronic inflammatory. Diverticulitis is commonly considered an acute aggravation of the underlying condition. The aim of naturopathic treatment is to first alleviate any symptoms associated with an acute attack and then to address any factors contributing to constipation, poor digestive function or food reactions.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

Home Care strategies include:

  • During a diverticulitis attack it is best to rest in bed. Applying a heating pad to your abdomen may decrease the abdominal discomfort.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • During an acute attack it may be helpful to fast for a couple days and drink only water, and then slowly begin drinking thicker liquids and then eating foods. Giving the digestive system a break can be very effective in decreasing the inflammation.
  • Identifying and eliminating any and all food allergies and food sensitivities is necessary to help decrease the number of divericula.
  • Increasing the amount of dietary fiber can help prevent future attacks.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water.
  • Regular exercise is important to ensure regular bowel movements.
  • Address any postural issues especially relating to the low back and pelvic region.
  • Proper breathing is associated with improved bowel function.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.

Naturopathic Therapies for diverticulosis and diverticulitis include:

  • Homeopathics may be helpful in treating both diverticulitis attacks and in decreasing diverticulosis.
  • Acupuncture may be helpful in improving overall digestive function, including re-establishing proper bowel movements.
  • Hydrotherapy can be effective in relieving acute attacks and decreasing the risk of further attacks.

References

Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [1]

  1. West AB, Losada M (2004 May-Jun) The pathology of diverticulosis coli J Clin Gastroenterol; Vol38(5 Suppl 1):S11-6 PMID: 15115923.
  2. Weizman AV, Nguyen GC (2011 Jul) Diverticular disease: epidemiology and management Can J Gastroenterol; Vol25(7):385-9 PMID: 21876861.
  3. Heaton KW (1985 Jun) Diet and diverticulosis--new leads Gut; Vol26(6):541-3 PMID: 3924744.
  4. Williams PT (May 2009) Incident diverticular disease is inversely related to vigorous physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc;41(5):1042-7. PMID: 19346983.
  5. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis Retrieved from http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/diverticulosis/#what on July 8, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gaby AR (2011) Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Gaby" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Bone Kerry 2007 The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, A Desktop Guide For Herbal Prescribers Phytotherapy Press, Australia
  8. Hoffman D (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science Principles and Practices Of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press.