This digestive condition is another mystery. Why do some people develop little pouches (diverticula) along the wall of their colons? Why do some people develop inflamed or infected diverticula (diverticulitis)? There are lots of theories, but the predominant hypothesis is lack of fiber (roughage). It might even be true. But a fair number of folks eat lots of fiber and fruits and vegetables and still end up with diverticulitis. And there are those who eat very little roughage and escape unscathed.
When we don’t know for sure, we frequently blame our genes, and they too may be a contributing factor. Regardless of what causes diverticulitis, it can be painful and disabling. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Treatment often includes antibiotics if there are signs of infection within the diverticula. Not infrequently, physicians will give the bowels a “rest.” If patients are hospitalized, doctors may take them off food and give them only intravenous fluids for a while. Outpatients often receive the confusing advice to eat a very low-fiber diet initially during an attack. Then, eventually, when the colon recovers, they are encouraged to consume a high-fiber diet.
Diverticulitis requires excellent supervision by a very knowledgeable gastroenterologist. If the situation gets serious, surgery may be necessary. We hope these suggestions help prevent that.
My husband was diagnosed with diverticulitis. He was treated with antibiotics, but the doctor said he could have another attack at any time. My husband now avoids seeds and nuts, but a different doctor says food has very little impact. I now give my husband lots of fruit, yogurt, and acidophilus milk, and he is taking FiberCon daily. Is there anything else that might help?
Your husband may want to try probiotics (good bacteria). Such products are available in health food stores and in many supermarkets. One reader reported, “After ten years of being diagnosed repeatedly with diverticulitis and treated with antibiotics, my digestive system went crazy and I lost bowel control. More antibiotics and prednisone were prescribed. One doctor wanted to do surgery, perhaps a colostomy. I sought a second opinion, and the doctor prescribed probiotics. A week later I was fine. After four years I have no more diverticulitis and no diarrhea.”
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic