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Living with Diverticulosis

In this lesson, we are going to talk about living with diverticulosis. And possible ways to prevent. And ideas to manage it.

What is diverticulosis?

Diverticula is a pocket that forms anywhere on the wall of the colon (although anywhere else beside the colon is rare). Diverticuli is more than one pocket.

Most people do not even know that they have it because it does not cause issues or symptoms are very mild.

What causes Diverticulosis?

Here are some of the risk factors for diverticulosis:

  1. Aging, this condition is rare before the age of 40 but begins increasing after the age of 50 and older.
  2. Obesity may have a role
  3. Lack of Physical Activity
  4. Eating a diet high in animal fat and low fiber, processed foods
  5. Stress
  6. Genetics
  7. Having irritable bowel syndrome with constipation may even increase risk
  8. Certain medications like steroids, opiods, non-sterodial anti-inflammatory drugs

Our typical Western diet which is low in plant-based foods and fiber but high in processed foods/starches. This is because processed foods contribute to a dense food waste that moves sluggishly to dense food waste which moves very slowly through our bowels and fails to clean it out along the way which becomes more solid as it travels. This provides an increased pressure in our colon and something has to give so a pocket or pouch forms to alleviate some pressure.

One the pocket (s) occur, it is easier for them to fill up with digested food and become inflammed.

In many parts of the world where there is a high fiber diet, this condition is rarely seen and in some parts of the world the pockets are in different locations. So prevention is thought to be eating a diet rich in high fiber, whole foods, drinking adequate water and regular exercise.

What is the difference between diverticulosis and diverticulitis?

Diverticulosis is the presence of pockets/pouches and diverticulitis is the inflammation/infection of these pockets.

Diverticular disease is considered when a person has persistent symptoms or complications from the condition that requires periodic treatment.

What Are the Symptoms?

Some of the symptoms include pain, bloating, tenderness in lower abdomen, bloating especially if you are prone to constipation and bleeding. Someone could have a fever or a change in bowel habits.

What Diagnostic Tools are Used to Determine if Someone has Diverticulosis?

Here are some of the tests and procedures that may be used to determine if someone has diverticulosis and to what extent. The tools may also be used to determine the seriousness of diverticulitis.

-colonoscopy or GI X-ray exam
-physical exam
-blood test
-stool test
-imaging test

What Treatment is Used for Living with Diverticulosis?

For most people, the treatment is to get more fiber in the diet, which is more than likely a contributor to the condition and a cause of constipation. High fiber also helps keep the colon cleaned out. Some people use Psyllium.

When adding more fiber, it is important to add slowly and wash it down with lots of water in order to prevent gas pain and bloating. The amount to strive for a day for women is about 28 grams a day and for men about 35 grams per day.

It is important to pay attention if certain foods bother you or if a certain medication causes issues. It is also important to watch for bleeding.

Treatment for Diverticulitis

If symptoms are mild, the treatment is rest, possibly eating a low fiber diet until the pocket/pouch has the food/infection healed and antibiotics. Sometimes people need clear liquid.

For more severe or frequently occurring, surgery may be required.

Resources for Learning More About Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

Diverticulosis & Diverticulitis: Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention (

Diverticulosis: What It Is, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment (

When I had my first colonoscopy, I found out that I had a diverticula and a polyp. Now, I have a colonoscopy every 5 years because of my history of polyps but so far have not added another diverticula. If you have not had a colonoscopy and you are over 50, are at high risk or have symptoms, it is very important and can be life-saving.

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Eat a variety of colors in your fruits and vegetables. The purple foods may even help raise the good HDL cholesterol!