Persistent abdominal pain should never be ignored, and if you’re middle-aged or older, there’s a significant chance it’s a symptom of diverticular disease. At New York Gastroenterology Associates, with offices in Manhattan’s Midtown East and Upper East Side, the physicians diagnose and treat diverticular disease, including diverticulitis and diverticulosis. To learn more, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.
As you get older, it’s common for small pouches called diverticula to form in the wall of your digestive tract, usually your colon. Diverticular disease refers to a group of conditions that involve the formation of diverticula.
Diverticula don’t necessarily cause symptoms or complications, and many people don’t realize they have the condition. Diverticulosis simply means diverticula have formed in your digestive tract, but they cause minimal or no problems. Symptoms of diverticulosis are fairly mild when they do occur, and can include cramping and bloating.
In some people, the pouches become inflamed or infected, leading to a condition called diverticulitis that causes more serious symptoms. Also, blood vessels leading to the pouch may burst, causing a condition called diverticular bleeding. Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include:
Diverticulitis can be chronic or acute. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications, including abscesses or blockages in your digestive tract.
The exact cause of diverticular disease is unknown, but a common theory is that diverticula form in weakened places in the wall of your digestive tract in response to pressure.
Possible risk factors for diverticular disease include:
It’s not clear why diverticula lead to symptoms and complications in some people and not in others.
Treatment for diverticular disease depends in part on the severity of your symptoms. As a preventive measure, the doctors may recommend you eat a diet low in animal protein and high in fiber, and drink lots of water. This helps you pass stools more easily and reduce the pressure you put on your bowels, decreasing the chances of inflammation.
Diverticulitis usually responds to a course of antibiotics. The doctor may also recommend a liquid diet to allow your colon to heal, and over-the-counter pain relief medication to manage discomfort. If you have severe, repeated attacks of diverticulitis, your doctor may advise surgery to remove the infected part of the organ.
Call New York Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today to learn more.