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What are the Different Types of Diverticulitis Treatments?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Mild cases of diverticulitis, which occurs when an abnormal pouch in the intestines becomes infected and swollen, may be effectively treated with rest and dietary changes. Antibiotics will help speed recovery from this infection. More serious cases require diverticulitis treatments in the hospital, such as intravenous antibiotics and possibly surgery. Once the patient recovers from an attack, the doctor will likely recommend taking prevention measures to avoid undergoing further diverticulitis treatments.

Those who suffer from an attack of diverticulitis should see their doctors as soon as they notice symptoms, such as sudden, severe abdominal pain, nausea, and changes in typical bowel habits. If the doctor determines that the patient's condition is mild, he will likely recommend rest for a few days. The patient will need to consume a strictly liquid diet to allow the diverticula, or the abnormal pouch, to heal. Under the doctor's supervision, the patient may gradually begin to eat high-fiber solid food as his symptoms diminish and the infection heals.

Diverticulitis treatments may also require an over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen, to reduce discomfort. Prescription-strength pain medications are generally avoided, as these can actually worsen the problem by increasing the risk of constipation. An antibiotic will also likely be prescribed to heal the infection. It is essential for patients to finish the full course of antibiotics, even if their symptoms begin to abate.

More severe attacks may require more intensive diverticulitis treatments, especially when the patient is at risk of developing complications, such as bowel obstruction. The patient may be hospitalized and the doctor will administer antibiotics intravenously, or into the vein. While in the hospital, the patient will be unable to consume solid food to avoid aggravating the intestinal tract.

In some cases, the patient may develop an abscess that can require drainage. These more intensive diverticulitis treatments involve placing a needle into the abscess, followed by a catheter for drainage. The catheter will typically remain there as the patient undergoes antibiotic therapy. Sometimes, an abscess drainage is followed by surgery.

Surgery may be needed if the patient suffers from recurring diverticulitis or a perforation of the colon. The surgeon will remove the part of the colon that is infected. He may be able to reattach the colon so that the patient can eliminate the bowels normally. If this is impossible, the surgeon will instead perform a colostomy, which involves creating a hole in the abdominal wall so that waste may be eliminated into an external bag. In some cases, this is only temporary and the surgeon will later be able to reattach the colon.

To prevent the necessity of diverticulitis treatments, patients who have a diverticula can take steps to prevent it from becoming infected. Drinking plenty of fluids and consuming a high-fiber diet can lower the pressure within the digestive tract. The doctor may also recommend a fiber supplement. Regular exercise can also help encourage normal bowel movements.

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