Once you develop diverticula they are there to stay unless you have them surgically removed. You can minimize your chances of developing an infection by modifying your diet. If you have a mild case of diverticulosis, your doctor may have you eat a high-fiber diet to make sure your bowels move regularly and to reduce your odds of getting diverticulitis.
If you develop diverticulitis you need to see a doctor to make sure you recover completely and to avoid possible life-threatening complications. Diverticulitis is treated using diet modifications, antibiotics, and possibly surgery.
Mild diverticulitis infection may be treated with bed rest, stool softeners, a liquid diet, antibiotics to fight the inflammation, and possibly antispasmodic drugs.
However, if you have had a perforation or develop a more severe infection you will probably be hospitalized so you can receive intravenous (through a vein) antibiotics. You may also be fed intravenously to give your colon time to recuperate. In addition, your doctor may want to drain infected abscesses and give your intestinal tract a rest by performing a temporary colostomy. A colostomy creates an opening (called a stoma) so your intestine will empty into a bag that is attached to the front of your abdomen. Depending on the success of your recovery, this procedure may be reversed during a second operation.
If you have several attacks of acute diverticulitis, your doctor may want to remove the affected section of the intestine when you are free of symptoms. You may also need surgery if intravenous therapy does not effectively treat your acute attack of diverticulitis. Whatever your treatment, your chances for a full recovery are very good if you receive prompt medical attention.
You should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to prevent constipation. If you do become constipated, prunes or prune juice may serve as natural laxatives. Follow a low-fat diet; fat slows down the passage of food through the intestine. Get yourself tested for food allergies to identify foods that irritate your system so that you can avoid them.
During acute attacks of diverticulitis, eat low-bulk foods (broths and low-fiber breads) while diverticula are inflamed and sensitive, and make the following foods a significant part of your diet: cooked vegetables, cooked fruits, and apples -- all of which will be soothing to the inflamed intestine. Avoid milk and milk products (yogurts and cheeses), which could worsen your illness, especially if you have diarrhea.
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