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What is Diverticulitis?

July 31st, 2019

By: Lenora Alabi

Diverticulitis is a condition that causes abdominal discomfort. About one fourth of people who get diverticulitis experience complications that can be dangerous, such as a rupture that causes the contents of the intestine to get into the abdominal cavity. Understanding what diverticulitis is and what causes it may help you to prevent or recognize it in your aging relative.

About Diverticulitis

After the age of 40, it’s common for people to develop little pouches in the lining of their intestines, especially in the colon. Most of the time, they don’t cause any problems. However, when they become infected or inflamed, they cause diverticulitis.

The symptoms of diverticulitis can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, the condition is typically treated with antibiotics, changes in diet, and rest. When the symptoms are more severe, diverticulitis may need to be treated with surgery.

Symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Constant pain in the abdomen that lasts for several days. Pain is most common in the lower left part of the abdomen.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • A tender feeling when the abdomen is touched.
  • Constipation or sometimes diarrhea.

Causes of Diverticulitis

The diverticula that can develop into diverticulitis form in parts of the colon that are weak. The diverticula are about the size of a marble and poke through the wall of the colon. Certain things can make it more likely for an older adult to develop diverticulitis, such as:

  • Getting Older: The risk of getting diverticulitis gets bigger with age.
  • Obesity: People who are very overweight develop diverticulitis more often.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smokers are at higher risk.
  • Lack of Exercise: People who exercise vigorously has been linked with a lower incidence of diverticulitis.
  • Eating Patterns: Eating a diet that contains a lot of animal fat and little fiber increases the risk.
  • Medications: Some kinds of medications, like opiates and NSAIDs, raise the risk.

Preventing Diverticulitis

Several of the risk factors listed above are things older adults can change to prevent diverticulitis. Some lifestyle changes that can help are:

  • Regular exercise.
  • Healthy diet that is high in fiber.
  • Drinking enough liquids.
  • Manage weight.
  • Quit smoking.

Elderly care can help older adults to prevent diverticulitis by assisting them to make healthier lifestyle choices. An elderly care provider can encourage regular exercise by going for walks with the senior, taking them to an exercise class, or simply keeping them more active at home. Elderly care providers can also cook healthy meals that include foods with fiber and promote weight loss. 

Sources
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diverticulitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20371758
https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/understanding-diverticulitis-basics
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152995.php


IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HIRING ELDER CARE IN THE NEAR NORTH, IL, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT BRIGHTSTAR CARE CHICAGO. CALL TODAY: 312.382.8888.