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The Early Signs of Diverticulitis

Are you bothered by constant abdominal pain and tenderness? Suffering from constipation? It could be diverticulitis.

Diverticulitis is inflammation or infection of small pouches inside your intestines. These pouches are called diverticula, and they’re very common in people over the age of 40. If you have diverticula, it’s called diverticulosis.

Diverticulosis usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. But if you develop diverticulitis (inflammation or infection), you can experience severe abdominal pain, bleeding, and changes in bowel movements.

Since there are lots of possible causes of digestive issues, it’s not always easy to recognize the signs of diverticulitis. Board-certified surgeon Elvira Klause, MD, and our team are here to help. If you’re living with digestive problems or abdominal pain, it’s time to find out if it could be diverticulitis. 

Understanding diverticulitis

Your intestines are a continuous tube about 25 feet long, connecting your stomach to your anus. The large intestine is 5 feet long, while the small intestine, or colon, is 20 feet long.

Intestines play an important role in your digestive system, because nutrients from your diet are absorbed through their walls. Healthy intestinal function means healthy digestion, but having diverticula could put your health at risk.

Diverticula pouches are most commonly found in the lower portion of your large intestine. The diverticula themselves typically don’t cause problems, and it’s possible to have diverticulosis without even knowing it.

But sometimes, diverticula get inflamed or infected, and diverticulitis develops. Diverticulitis ranges from mild to severe, but most people need professional medical care to relieve their symptoms.

Signs of diverticulitis

The inflammation and infection of diverticulitis can affect your intestinal function and digestion. A few early signs that could indicate you’re suffering from diverticulitis include:

Diverticulitis pain and tenderness are generally located on the lower left side of your abdomen, although some people notice pain on the lower right side. Pain may be constant and persist for several days at a time.

Constipation is another common symptom of diverticulitis, but it may also cause diarrhea. If you have bowel disruptions or a fever, don’t hesitate to seek medical care.

Relieving diverticulitis symptoms

If you experience ongoing abdominal pain, make an appointment with Dr. Klause. She can diagnose diverticulitis with a physical exam, along with other diagnostic tests that include CT scans, blood, or urine tests.

Mild cases of diverticulitis typically respond well to at-home care. We may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection and recommend a liquid diet for a few days while your intestines heal.

Many people find that rest, antibiotics and/or dietary changes are enough to resolve their diverticulitis symptoms, but about 25% of patients develop complications. In these cases, you might need surgery to prevent life-threatening complications like intestinal blockage or peritonitis.

Dr. Klause and our surgical team specialize in abdominal surgery, which may be the recommended option for people with severe diverticulitis. During surgery, Dr. Klause removes the infection and damaged tissue. 

Depending on the severity of your condition, a colostomy may be necessary.

Don’t ignore abdominal discomfort. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of diverticulitis, schedule an appointment today. Call our San Clemente, California, office at 949-276-8050 or request an appointment online.

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