Diverticular disease is a very common health problem in the United States – especially when we get older. Approximately 50% of the American population older than 60 will develop diverticulosis, and some of them will also develop diverticulitis. Over time, our digestive system can get weaker, when this happens, there is a chance that small bulging pouches develop in the lining of the digestive system. These pouches are called diverticula and are a very common and harmless condition. The presence of diverticula in the digestive system is called diverticulosis. When one or more of these pouches get infected and/or inflamed it gets very painful. This diverticula disease is called diverticulitis.
Cause & Risk Factors of Diverticular Disease
Diverticula develop in the digestive system when the colon gives way to severe pressure. The exact cause of this is still unknown, but most medical scientists believe a low-fiber diet and constipation play a big part. Constipation causes extra stress to the walls of the colon, which makes it easier for the diverticula to develop in weakened linings. These pouches often develop in the lower parts of the large intestine. Diverticulitis happens when the diverticula tear, this will lead to inflammation and sometimes infection. As people get older, the chances increase for developing diverticulosis. In fact, after age 60, the odds are 1 in 2! Diverticulitis is less common, but there are a few factors that increase someone’s chances. These include:
- Overweight and obesity
- Lack of exercise
- Low fiber and or high animal fat diets
- Medication, like steroids and NSAIDs
Products that contain lots of fiber are vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products, like brown rice and oatmeal. High animal fat diets include high intakes of beef, pork, veal, lamb, and high-fat dairy products like whole milk and cottage cheese. Continue reading on the next page and discover, among others, what the warning signs of diverticulosis and diverticulitis are.