Diverticulitis Symptoms and 3 Ways to Treat Them

Diverticulitis symptoms include pain and discomfort. These occur when there’s an inflammation and infection of one or more diverticula.

Woman holding her abdominal area with both hands

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis symptoms occur in the colon and centre around the diverticula – pockets or bulges that form in weaker areas of the small and large intestines when the pressure in the organ increases.

Interestingly, diverticulosis doesn’t show symptoms nor does it require any treatment. However, diverticulitis is an infection and inflammation in one or more diverticula. Consequently, it can lead to diverticulitis symptoms like pain and nausea. 

This article will explore the causes and symptoms of the health disorder, and three ways to treat it effectively. 

Overweight man in sports attire walking down a road that’s surrounded by trees
Being male or overweight are two notable factors of diverticulitis.

Learning the Causes of Diverticulitis Symptoms 

Unique factors can increase your risk of diverticulitis, especially after the age of 40. These include smoking, being male or overweight, living a sedentary life and using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Also, a diet that centres on excessive consumption of red meat and high-fat foods, as well as lack of fibre can make you susceptible to the condition. 

An insufficient intake of fibre 

Your risk of diverticulitis is higher if you don’t consume enough fibre. This practice will result in an accumulation of waste in the colon, putting strain on the organ’s walls which could lead to the formation of diverticula.

Exposure to external factors 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that a diverticulitis diagnosis can be provided by learning your symptoms. 

“A person with diverticulitis can experience symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and blood in the stools. These are tell-tale of several irregularities, such as qi (vital energy) stagnation, spleen deficiency, and stomach and large intestine heat,” explains Eu Yan Sang TCM physician Ng Qing Xiang.

3D illustrations of the Tianshu and Zusanli acupoints
Targeted acupuncture of the Tianshu and Zusanli acupoints can calm inflammation.

Three Treatment Options to Help Overcome Diverticulitis 

A healthcare provider will usually ask a few questions before prescribing suitable treatment modalities for your condition. He will need to know if you have existing symptoms, the types of food you regularly consume, and the frequency of your bowel movements. 

Additionally, your healthcare provider may perform other tests to diagnose your condition and also rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. These tests may include blood or stool sample tests to identify infections and the abnormal presence of bacteria or parasites. 

To rule out diseases in the rectum, a doctor may perform a digital rectal examination involving the insertion of a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum.

Meanwhile, a computerised tomography (CT) scan can reveal diverticula infection or inflammation and diverticulitis severity.

Doctors may use colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy for a more visual examination of your colon. These tests involve passing a flexible tube carrying a camera through your anus. This helps the doctors to visualize the interiors of the intestine and diagnose the condition. 

In case you have heavy bleeding through your anus, your doctor may do an angiography to help locate the source of bleeding. 

Medications 

For mild cases of diverticulitis, a doctor will suggest the use of oral antibiotics. You will also be advised a liquid, easy to digest diet to help the intestines heal.

Conversely, a more severe form of the condition may require hospital admission and the administration of intravenous medications or fluids. In some scenarios, a surgical procedure may be considered. 

Herbal ingredients and formulations 

A stomach and large intestine heat syndrome may induce abdominal pain. Hence, a TCM practitioner is likely to prescribe formulas like Chen Qi Tang and Da Chai Hu Tang to ease the pain. 

“These formulas include the use of herbs like rhubarb (Dahuang, 大黄), Bupleurum root (Chaihu, 柴胡), and immature bitter orange (Zhishi, ). They can offer pain relief and help eliminate heat and improve qi flow,” says Physician Ng. 

Seeking consultation with a TCM practitioner can also help establish if these herbs are apt for your body constitution. The conjunctive use of medication and herbal formulas will also ensure that you avoid potential contraindications. 

Acupuncture 

This therapy can strengthen the digestive system and immune system to stimulate proper functioning and help calm inflammation. The acupoints used are Tianshu (ST25, 天樞) and Zusanli (ST36, 足三里). 

Ultimately, preventing diverticulitis symptoms is better than curing them. It starts with healthy practices like fibre-rich meals, adequate hydration, and daily exercise, Nevertheless, there are multiple treatment options available if you are hit with diverticulitis.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis of the Colon. [online] [Accessed 23 February 2022] 
  2. ACUFINDER.COM. Diverticulitis Relief. [online] [Accessed 23 February 2022] 

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