Diverticulitis is a common condition where small pockets in the intestines called diverticula become inflamed or infected. Some common symptoms are pain in the lower abdomen, fever, nausea, and changes in bowel habits. This can cause serious discomfort and, if left untreated, more serious health problems.
Here are six symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore if you suspect you might have diverticulitis.
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1. Pain in the Lower Abdomen
When diverticulitis flares up, you may feel persistent pain in your lower abdomen, especially on the left side. It can be a constant ache or suddenly become sharp and intense. According to Dr. Anita Iroko, a general practitioner, “Patients often describe this pain as unlike anything they’ve felt before, and it can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities.”
2. Fever and Chills
Feeling feverish or experiencing chills could be a sign that an infection is present. Diverticulitis can cause an infection in the diverticula, so if you have these symptoms, along with abdominal pain, you should seek medical help right away.
3. Change in Bowel Habits
Diverticulitis can cause changes in your bowel habits. You might find yourself dealing with constipation or, on the other hand, diarrhea. Both of these changes can be quite uncomfortable and might be accompanied by the need to use the restroom urgently.
4. Nausea and Vomiting
Feeling nauseous or even vomiting can be another sign of diverticulitis. The inflammation in the intestines can irritate the stomach and create these symptoms. Dr. Anita Iroko points out, “Nausea and vomiting are common responses to the body’s attempt to fight the infection.”
5. Bloating and Gas
Bloating and gas are not uncommon with diverticulitis. The inflammation in the intestines can trap air and stool, creating a sensation of fullness and discomfort. This can also contribute to the changes in bowel habits mentioned earlier.
6. Loss of Appetite
A loss of appetite might not seem serious, but in the context of other symptoms, it’s a warning sign that something might be wrong. According to Dr. Anita Iroko, “A sudden loss of appetite combined with other symptoms of diverticulitis can indicate a more serious underlying issue that requires immediate medical attention.”
How do I know if my Diverticulitis is getting worse?
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor immediately as they may indicate that your diverticulitis is worsening:
- Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Abdominal pain that does not improve with at-home treatments such as rest, heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers
- Persistent nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
- Blood in your stool
- Unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas
These symptoms may signal a serious complication, such as an abscess or a blockage in your intestine.
How Is Diverticulitis Diagnosed?
Diverticulitis is usually diagnosed through a physical examination and a review of symptoms. Your healthcare provider may also order specific tests like blood tests, a CT scan, or an ultrasound. According to Dr. Anita Iroko, “Accurate diagnosis is vital for effective treatment. Tests like a CT scan provide clear images of the digestive tract, aiding in diagnosis.”
What Are the Treatment for Diverticulitis?
Treatment for diverticulitis varies depending on the severity and individual needs. It may include antibiotics, over-the-counter pain relievers, and dietary changes. In more severe cases, hospitalization or surgery may be necessary. Dr. Anita Iroko states, “Treatment is usually a combination of medication and dietary adjustments. Close follow-up with healthcare providers ensures proper care and recovery.”
Can Diverticulitis Be Prevented?
Yes, there are measures you can take to lower your risk of developing diverticulitis. Eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and regular exercise are some ways to promote healthy bowel movements and decrease the chance of diverticula formation. Dr. Anita Iroko advises, “Lifestyle modifications and healthy eating habits are often key in preventing diverticulitis.”
Further Reading: 7 Foods To Avoid With Diverticulitis