People are increasingly suffering from diverticular disease. The bag-shaped protuberances of the intestinal wall in most cases do not cause any discomfort - if so, sufferers should seek immediate medical attention. A high-fiber diet prevents the formation of diverticula as well as more severe consequences of this disease. The number of diverticular diseases has steadily increased in western industrialized countries over the past decades. For 40- to 60-year-olds a frequency of 7 to 12 percent is assumed, among the over-60s, 40 to 50 percent are affected. This makes diverticulosis one of the most common colonic diseases.
Definition: What are diverticula?
Diverticulum means in latin aberration, deviation; Diverticula are small, bag-shaped protuberances. They can occur in different organs. If not specified, it generally means protuberances of the colon wall. If these protuberances do not occur isolated but in large numbers, it is called diverticulosis. If the diverticula are inflamed, it is a diverticulitis.
Causes: How do diverticula arise?
The exact cause of the protuberances could not be clarified so far. However, it is believed that the comparatively low-fiber diet plays an important role in the Western world. For example, vegetarians eat far more fiber than "meat eaters" - and are much less likely to be affected by diverticulosis.
Symptoms: What can occur for complaints?
Not every diverticulosis causes complaints automatically - 80 percent of sufferers have no symptoms. Often the protuberances are discovered by chance during a colonoscopy. Only 20 percent of people suffer from health problems, such as flatulence, abdominal pain, especially in the left lower abdomen or constipation alternating with diarrhea.
Serious complications are rare, but are immediately associated with medical treatment, such as blood in the stool. When the diverticula become inflamed, diverticulitis occurs. The symptoms are similar to appendicitis: spasmodic pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, usually fever.
Diverticulum in the esophagus
Projections of the mucous membrane may appear elsewhere in the body - most commonly diverticulum of the esophagus. And although this has bottlenecks in three places:
- The first, strictly speaking, lies before the actual beginning of the esophagus, where the esophagus and the esophagus emerge. Here the musculature surrounding the mucous membrane is relatively thin, so that a diverticulum quickly emerges. This diverticulum is called Zenker's diverticulum. Typical complaints are leftovers that find themselves undigested in the mouth again in the morning, sometimes a tight throat.
- More diverticula are often found at the area where the two main bronchi exit from the trachea, and just before the end of the esophagus, where it leaves the thoracic cavity and passes through the diaphragm.
All diverticula can be removed in case of severe discomfort in a laparoscopic operation (OP).
Treatment, nutrition, surgery
Existing diverticula do not reform. However, a high-fiber diet increases complications as well as the formation of other diverticula and is therefore recommended for prevention and for symptom-free patients. For the daily diet this means: whole grains as well as vegetables and fruits should be abundant on the menu, animal products such as meat, sausage or eggs should be reduced.
So that the intestine can slowly get used to such a diet, the conversion should be gradual and slow. In addition, very important: drink plenty of water so that the fiber has enough liquid available. By daily intake of wheat bran, the fiber content of the diet can be further increased.
In case of diverticulitis, your doctor will take treatment measures to reduce the inflammation and thus avoid surgery (OP). This includes abstaining from solid foods until the inflammation subsides, usually being infused with infusions during hospitalization and receiving antibiotics. If the intestinal section, because it is repeatedly inflamed, must be removed, this can usually be done in a laparoscopic operation (OP) - only with a strong inflammation and a complication such as a bowel opening is sometimes an immediate open emergency operation necessary.