Learn the Truth about These 3 Diverticular Disease Myths
A lot of health-conscious people can rattle off their stats: cholesterol counts, blood pressure, and BMI without even looking at their health records. But not many of them can as easily talk about their colon health, especially when it comes to diverticular disease. Though it’s an extremely common condition, diverticular disease is not often talked about.
If you have had experience with diverticular disease, you know that it can be painful and require treatment. But you also know that it’s largely preventable. Read on for the truth behind three diverticular disease myths.
Myth: You Shouldn’t Eat Nuts and Seeds if you have Diverticular Disease
Truth: This myth contradicts advice to prevent diverticular disease! A healthy, fiber-rich diet is the best way to avoid diverticulitis. Seeds and nuts are high in fiber and part of a healthy diet.
In the past, it was believed that a seed or nut plugged the pocket in the colon, causing it to become inflamed or rupture. Research suggests that that is not how diverticular disease is caused.
Myth: Diverticular Disease Needs Treatment — Always
Truth: People often confuse diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
Diverticulosis usually doesn’t need to be treated. Diverticulitis is more serious and may require surgery.
Diverticulosis occurs when small pockets protrude through the weak muscled layers in the intestinal wall. Think of it like a bubble in a tire. This is common. 6 in 10 people have them by the time they’re 60, and as many as 8 in 10 have them by 80.
These protruding pockets can be found during a colonoscopy, and most don’t realize they have them. By themselves, they’re not concerning. Diverticulosis only requires surgery in the rare event that it bleeds and doesn’t stop bleeding.
Diverticulitis happens when one or more of the pockets perforate (make a hole in the colon wall), and an infection occurs. This can also happen when pockets rupture and bacteria from your stool travels outside of the intestines and into the surrounding abdominal area. When this happens, several things can happen:
- Pain, especially when eating or drinking
- An abscess resulting from the bacteria in the abdomen
- Peritonitis, a rare but painful infection of the abdominal cavity that requires immediate treatment
Surgery isn’t needed for all diverticulitis cases. If you suspect you have diverticulitis, you should see a physician to get diagnosed.
Myth: A History of Diverticulitis Means More Diverticulitis In the Future
Truth: Diverticulitis occurs in only 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis. Most cases require outpatient treatment and antibiotics. Studies show that the next bout of diverticulitis will be similar to your first. Usually, if your body was able to handle diverticulitis the first time, it’s going to react well the next time.
It’s not entirely clear why people get diverticulitis, but it may be from high pressure in the bowels and being constipated. To avoid this, eat a healthy diet right in fiber and avoid constipation.
If you suspect you have diverticular disease and you want to see your gastroenterologist, make an appointment today.