Diverticulitis is an infection caused by the inflammation or rapture of small bulging pouches in the lining of the digestive system. These pouches are called diverticula and are commonly found in the lower part of the colon. Usually, these pouches are harmless and do not cause any pain to the patient. However, due to too much pressure or force from hard stool, one or more of these pouches swell, causing severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
Patients, especially those over 40, may experience noticeable changes in their bowel habits. In mild cases, the pain and other symptoms are still tolerable. Mild cases of diverticulitis can be treated by modified diets, exercise, and antibiotics. Unfortunately, many patients ignore the early signs, leaving issues untreated. Patients with severe and recurring diverticulitis may experience constant and persistent pain in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms may also include frequent constipation, diarrhea, and blood in the stool.
The leading cause of diverticulitis is still unknown. However, it has been established that diverticula (the pouches) often grow in the naturally weak places of the colon. This article lists some of the possible causes and risk factors of diverticulitis.
Like any other part of the human body, the large intestine naturally becomes weaker with age. As a result, the lining of the intestine becomes thinner and more prone to being torn apart by external pressure and force. For instance, the passing of hard stool can trigger the formation of diverticula or small pouches in the walls of the colon.
Diverticulitis can happen to anyone, but data shows it is more common among the elderly. For example, recent data shows that 15% of patients with diverticulosis are people over 40, and almost 50% of patients are over 60. The exact cause of diverticulitis is unknown, but most experts charge it to the natural deteriorating process of the cells in the human body.
Unfortunately, once a patient has developed diverticula, they are more likely to go away. This means the bleeding and inflammation occur repeatedly. The average life expectancy of people with diverticulitis depends on what age at which the first episode occurs. Younger people can generally live by following a strict diet, exercise routine, and clean lifestyle. However, older patients (55-65 years old) have an average life expectancy of 14 years.