How Can I Have Diverticulosis?

While this blog is indeed dedicated to the liver, I always promised that I would add additional topics of interest, including digestive health. Regardless of what your health status is, a finely tuned gut will always be beneficial.  In my own liver practice, it is a daily ritual to discuss diet and digestive health. Specifically, the role of dietary fiber. While a longer discussion of fiber will follow, the issue at hand now is what happens when you don’t have enough fiber in the diet?

The most common ailment of a low fiber diet is diverticulosis. Many people have small pouches in their colons that bulge outward through weak spots, like an inner tube that pokes through weak places in a tire. Each pouch is called a diverticulum. Pouches (plural) are called diverticula. The condition of having diverticula is called diverticulosis. About 10 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have diverticulosis. The condition becomes more common as people age. About half of all people over the age of 60 have diverticulosis.

When the pouches become infected or inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. This happens in 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis. In this setting, there is pain, fever, bleeding and the risk of serious infections as well as perforation of the colon. This is a true medical and surgical emergency.

Symptoms of diverticulosis range from none, to chronic left sided, lower abdominal pain. In many cases, a history of constipation is also reported. For some, they are given the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.

I have posted one of the best video images of diverticulosis I have ever captured. This short clip recorded a few weeks ago clearly shows what happens with diverticulosis. Food and stool get trapped inside these pouches. The pouches get irritated and infected, causing pain and all of the other complications. Through the colonoscope, I bombarded this particular spot until the stool was washed free. It took a few minutes of close irrigation to push it free. There was a big sigh in the room from the nurses once this little bit of stool was freed.

I recommend 35 to 40 grams of dietary fiber daily. Here is a link to get started looking at fiber content in foods. It takes work but very much worth it in the end.

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One Response to “How Can I Have Diverticulosis?”

  1. John Flohr 03/12/2008 at 8:00 am #

    Great info! Diverticulosis is a popular subject lately. It’s good to see this photo of exactly what we’re talking about. (A little appalling, but interesting.) I’ve linked to your page from my blog,

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