Recognizing the Signs of Diverticulitis

Stomach complaints, fevers, abdominal pain and other symptoms can have many different causes. However, if your doctor can’t arrive at a diagnosis, you’ll want more answers. A second opinion could reveal a hidden condition known as diverticulitis.

In Kingwood, Texas, Dr. Ronald Ambe of Texas Surgical Care provides care for patients with diverticular disease and can offer you treatment options no matter how severe and frequent your symptoms have become.

Diverticular disease basics

The inside of your colon has a thin lining. As you age, weak areas can rupture, causing small pouches called diverticula to form. More than a third of people under the age of 50 have diverticulosis, and nearly 60% of people over the age of 60 have it as well.

A full 85% of people with diverticulosis never have any symptoms. However, the remaining 15% develop some level of diverticulitis (diverticula that have become inflamed), and have mild-to-severe symptoms requiring treatment.

Symptoms of diverticulitis

You could go your whole life without ever having problems from diverticulosis. However, if one or more diverticula get inflamed or infected, or you’ve had a rupture, you’ll probably start having diverticulitis symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation or (less likely) diarrhea
  • Abdominal tenderness (only hurts when pressed on)
  • Abdominal pain (hurts even without pressure)
  • Unexplained fever and/or chills

You’ll often notice a lot of bloating and gas, causing discomfort on the left side of your abdomen. If you pass gas, the pain will typically subside temporarily until pressure builds up again.

Common risk factors

The most common risk factor for diverticulitis is age. Other factors that can increase your risk of diverticulitis include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • A diet high in red meat and fat and low in fiber
  • Lack of exercise
  • Overuse of steroids and certain pain medications
  • Low vitamin D levels

You can help reduce your risk for diverticulitis by eating a balanced, healthy diet, exercising sensibly each day, discussing any ongoing pain medications with your doctor, and quitting smoking.

Treatment for diverticulitis

Dr. Ambe and our team will go through your entire medical history to determine if your symptoms are likely caused by diverticulitis. You’ll need to tell us if anyone in your family has it, and give us a list of all of your medications and supplements.

If we arrive at a diverticulitis diagnosis, we’ll work with you to help you modify your diet plan, create a viable exercise routine, and achieve weight loss, if needed. If you’re having a bad flare, we can prescribe antibiotics to help eliminate infection.

If you experience severe diverticulitis symptoms (such as bleeding from the rectum or severe, ongoing abdominal pain), Dr. Ambe may recommend an endoscopy to video the interior of your colon and look for diverticula that may have ruptured. He can perform surgery, if needed, to repair a perforated colon.

Do you have unexplained symptoms that match those of diverticulitis? Give us a call at 832-280-6782 or schedule an appointment online with us today.

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