Diverticula are small pouches that form in the wall of the large intestine, creating a condition called diverticulosis. The specific cause remains unknown, but the disease occurs most often in people overweight. Weakening of the intestinal wall as a person ages is believed to contribute to the formation of the pouches. As pressure builds up in the large intestine-for example, during a bout of constipation-the weakened areas balloon outward, forming pouches.
The pouches or sacs are not a problem in themselves, producing no symptoms until they become infected or inflamed. Infection or inflammation can occur when waste flowing through the intestines is diverted into one of the sacs and becomes impacted. The resulting condition is called diverticulitis, or inflammation of the diverticulitis. It can be painful and serious, and may lead to complications, such as abscesses, intestinal obstruction, or perforation of the intestinal wall. In addition to abdominal cramps and pain, other symptoms of diverticulitis include gas, flatulence, fever, and rectal bleeding. Constipation may sometimes alternate with diarrhea.
Diverticulitis occurs primarily in the industrialized western world, where diets that are high in fat and low in fiber are common. Inadequate consumption of dietary fiber can cause stools to become hard and compact, resulting in constipation. This may provoke unnatural contractions of the large intestine, which in turn leads to the formation of diverticula.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Along with a high-fiber diet, increased fluid intake produces bulky, soft stools that move easily through the intestinal tract.
If you have diverticular disease, it is important to avoid constipation, which can increase your risk of a diverticulitis flare-up.