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  • Home  > Articles on Health  > Diverticulitis


    Diverticular Disease: Diverticulitis and Diverticulosis

    Many of us haven't even heard of it, but an estimated 30-50 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have diverticular disease.

    Facts About Diverticular Disease

    Diverticular disease occurs when small pouches, known as diverticula, form in the walls of the large intestine or colon. It is believed that diverticula form when pressure inside the colon builds and makes the wall bulge in spots where it's naturally weak.

    One of the causes of this pressure can be related to constipation. Normally your colon muscles move in waves, expanding and contracting as they move waste through your system. When the waste material is hard and dry, the muscles may have to squeeze harder, with more force.

    There are many causes of constipation including medications, lack of exercise, stress and inadequate intake of fluid and fiber. An adequate intake of fiber helps keep the stool soft and add bulk, so it takes less pressure to move through the colon.

    Symptoms of Diverticular Disease

    If you have diverticular disease, there's a good chance you don't know it. Usually, the small pouches (diverticula) that form in the wall of the colon do not cause any problems and can only be detected if you have an X-ray. When diverticular are present, this common condition is called diverticulosis.

    However, if the pouches become infected and inflamed, abdominal pain, fever, and nausea may result. This conditions is called diverticulitis. It is estimated that as many as one in five people who have diverticula may develop the complication of diverticulitis.

    Doctors are unsure of all the reasons for diverticular disease. But they think that the walls of the colon weaken during the normal aging process.

    Diverticular Disease

    Diverticular Disease and Your Digestive System

    To better understand the causes of diverticular disease, let's take a quick tour of your digestive system.

    The digestive process begins in your mouth. Your teeth break up the food into small pieces and your saliva mixes with the food, allowing it to pass through the esophagus into the stomach. Using muscular contractions, the esophagus sends food from the mouth to the stomach.

    Like a giant processing center, the stomach churns the food into smaller pieces, preparing it to travel on to the lower part of the digestive tract.

    After leaving the stomach, the food passes into the small intestine, where the food's nutrients are further broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. By the time food passes through all 21 feet of the small intestine and reaches the colon, only water and waste products remain. Now the colon begins the process of removing waste from the body.

    Here's how doctors think diverticular disease develops:
    • A series of circular bands of muscle surround the colon. If two or more of these bands begin to contract at the same time, the colon cannot operate properly
    • What happens is that the contents of one section of the colon - gas, liquid, and waste material - cannot move on to the next section, as they should. So the trapped waste products press against the colon's wall, which is particularly dangerous for any weak spots.
    • Through these weak spots, small sacs, or diverticular, bulge out of the intestinal wall in much the same way that a bicycle's inner tube can bulge out through a soft spot in the tire.
    No one knows why the muscle contractions of the circular bands become strong enough to set this process in motion. But what is known is that it takes years for diverticular disease to develop.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    You feel some of the symptoms of diverticular disease....What do you do?

    First, see your physician. He or she will ask about your bowel habits and history. The doctor also will perform a physical examination, which may include a close look at the rectum and the lower part of the colon.

    Sometimes, a procedure called a colonoscopy is performed, Using a long, tube-like instrument with fiberoptic lenses, the doctor can examine the entire colon.

    In cases of diverticulitis, antibiotics usually clear up the infected divertiucla within a few days. While the colon is healing, the doctor may keep you on a low residue diet for a period of time.

    Managing Diverticular Disease

    There are several ways to manage diverticular disease. The following tips will help keep your colon functioning normally:
    • Eliminate foods and other substances that may be irritating to the colon.
    • Maintain an ideal weight.
    • Eat a diet of high-fiber foods

    An ideal product for relief of many of these symptoms: Herbal Fiberblend

    AIM Herbal Fiberblend contains more than 15 cleansing herbs which will "sweep" your colon and remove the toxins and poisons which have been trapped in the pockets of your colon.

    This article is reproduced from Partner's Magazine with the permission of AIM International

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