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Diverticulitis: Treating Pain in the Aging Population

· Digestive Diseases

Each year, millions of Americans suffer from, and seek treatment for pain within the colon often diagnosed as diverticulitis. Unfortunately, for many sufferers, symptoms of diverticulitis may have lingered for quite some time, resulting in a significant deformity of the colon, leading to even more significant issues when faced with the possibility of a life of pain. For aging adults suffering from colon pain, understanding the symptoms and treatment of diverticulitis may result in fewer cases of colon and rectal cancer.

Symptoms and Causes

Diverticulitis is a term that encompasses a variety of symptoms and causes. The most common train of thought lends the origin of diverticulitis, in the aging population, to the natural deterioration of the digestive tract leading to the development of small weakened spots within the colon wall. Most often, physicians believe, the development of diverticulitis is the result of strained bowel movements during early and mid life.

For aging adults who suffer from diverticulitis, symptoms generally exhibit as pain in the pelvis, abdomen and frequent urination. In addition to pain, some Diverticulitis sufferers will exhibit more extensive symptoms such as fever, vomiting, nausea and bleeding from the rectum.


When diagnosed with diverticulitis, the gastroenterologist should begin a series of antibiotics in an effort to control any bacteria associated with the diverticulitis symptoms. The antibiotics used to treat diverticulitis can be administered both orally and by injection but should include an antibiotic. In addition to antibiotic treatment, the gastroenterologist may recommend a modification to the dietary program including the avoidance of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. While these high fiber foods are generally considered a healthy source of nutrition, to the diverticulitis sufferer, these foods will further aggravate the diverticulitis symptoms and should, therefore, be avoided pending resolution of the condition.

Because diverticulitis can, in some cases, be attributed to a bacterial infection, preventing the spread of the bacteria is crucial especially in patients who suffer from co morbid conditions such as cardiovascular complications and obesity. For women suffering from symptoms of diverticulitis, avoiding or abstaining from sex may help to relieve symptoms during diverticulitis flair up.

When untreated, diverticulitis can lead to life long complications, including death. For this reason, in rare cases when the diverticulitis is quite significant, the gastroenterologist may recommend hospital admission with surgical consideration given to either remove the diseased portion of the colon and then reconnect or begin the use of a colostomy bag. While this is rare, it is recommended that sufferers of diverticulitis be open to the possibility of hospital admission and surgery as a necessary course of treatment if symptoms of diverticulitis are not improved.


For more details on prevention and treatments, check out this article.

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