Diverticulitis is a common condition in developed countries and can be traced back to the early 1900’s when low fibre and processed foods became a part of an everyday diet. In countries like Asia and Africa where a diet is based on large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables and minimal to no pre-packaged/processed foods, the condition is virtually non-existent.
If left untreated however, this condition can lead to such complications as peritonitis which is where the abdominal cavity lining becomes infected after the infection spreads from the diverticula. This condition can be potentially fatal. The inflammation of the diverticula can also cause the bowel to become narrower which in turn can lead to obstruction in the bowel.
While people over the age of 60 are more at risk it is also important to realize that people as young as 20 years or age are also susceptible to this condition and that a spread of weight around the abdominal region is a common warning sign.
The term diverticular disease describes the overall condition and it takes on board two phases of the disease, diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis is used to refer to the presence of diverticula (pockets) within the colon. It is quite common that any persons with diverticulosis may never show any symptoms of the disease and it is quite likely they will never progress to the second phase or “active” phase.
Diverticulitis is the term which does actually describe the active phase of the disease. This is where the diverticula become inflamed. Diverticulitis, according to current studies, occurs when bodily fluids or fecal matter becomes trapped in the diverticula.
Here are a few points to remember…..
1) It is quite possible that the infection will fix itself on it’s own without medical intervention
2) However, left untreated, diverticulitis can lead to more serious complications, including complete blockage of the bowel.