Diverticulitis Symptoms and Treatment
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Sometimes a pocket or diverticulum develops in the intestinal wall, perhaps in some weakened spot. This allows the inner lining of the intestine to bulge through between the muscle layers, forming a small pouch or pocket, a conditionally common seen in the later years of life. Usually there are few if any symptoms, the condition being noted on a routine X-ray of the colon. This is referred to as diverticulitis.
However, there are times when one or more of these pockets will become very irritated. The presence of foreign material in the pocket or diverticulum causes inflammation and infection, or diverticulitis. It usually involves not only the small pocket or diverticulum, but the surrounding wall of the colon as well. A local abscess may form, causing spasm and swelling and even obstruction of the bowel at times. In some cases the diverticulum, may rapture, causing peritonitis. If blood vessels are involved, there maybe considerable bleeding in the bowel. Occasionally the condition will quite down completely, but there are times when a surgical operation may be needed to bring relief and to prevent the further spread of infection.
Patients with diverticulitis often complains of pain in the lower abdomen, particularly on the left side, There may also be nausea, vomiting, and some distention of the abdomen, particularly of intestinal obstruction has occurred. In the chronic stage the patient passes through periods of alternating diarrhea and constipation, along with cramps and gaseous distention. Pain and distress in the left lower part of the abdomen may be almost constant. If the inflammation is near the ureter of bladder, there may also be some urinary frequency and burning. Many cases of “unexpected fever” are later found to be due to chronic diverticulitis.
During the acute stage the patient should remain in bed and take nothing but clear fluids for several hours. Local applications of heat, such as the use of a hot water bottle, heating pad, or hot packs, will often bring relief. This can be repeated three or four hour times a day as needed. Penicillin, 600,000 units with one gram of streptomycin, may be given once or twice daily for the first three days. Broad-spectrum antibiotics, such as Teramycin, 250 mg. four times a day, there are also valuable. It is best to avoid laxatives, but the patient may received some benifit from an oil enema, using about 3 ounces of olive or mineral oil, which is preferably left in the bowel. The enema should be given slowly and not forced past any obstruction that may be present.
In chronic diverticulitis, the treatment is similar. The patient should be given a low-residue diet. Some Suitable antispasmodic medicine, such as tincture of belladonna, 8 drops orally before each meal and at bedtime, may help bring relief. An excellent medicine for this purpose is Donnatal, one capsule or tablet after each meal. and at bedtime, may help to bring relief. An excellent medicine for this purpose is Donnatal, one capsule or tablet after each meal. In more severe cases, surgery may be indicated, particularly in the presence of an abdominal abscess or intestinal obstruction. Surgery is also advisable when X-ray shows the presence of a partial obstruction that might be due to either diverticulitis or cancer, of it there is much bleeding from the bleeding.