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Inadequate consumption of fibre has resulted in increasing occurrences of disorders such as constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease - inflammation or infection of small pouches called diverticula that develop along the walls of the intestines. Diverticulitis is extremely common among people in the late middle-age and the elderly, especially females. Severe cases require treatment in hospital with antibiotics and intravenous fluids and may require surgery.


Causes
Diverticulitis arises from increased pressure in the large bowel. Weakened areas of the bowel then balloon outwards, forming sac-lac diverticula. Inflammation and infection of these sacks is termed diverticulitis.


Symptoms and Complications

Diverticulitis is often painless and without symptoms. If symptoms do occur they manifest as cramps on the left side of the abdomen and bright red blood in the stool.


Untreated diverticulitis may lead to abscesses around the intestine.     


High-Fibre Diet

A diet high in fruit, vegetables and whole grain may help prevent this disorder, as indicated by fact that it occurs 30% less in vegetarians than in meat eaters. Cut down on refined foods, especially refined carbohydrates, such as biscuits, cakes and sweets. Substitute these by having  wholemeal bread, muesli or porridge daily, as well as plenty of other fibre rich foodstuffs such as pulses vegetables and fruit (fresh and dried). Studies have indicated that wheat bran may worsen diverticulitis.


A high fibre diet necessitates drinking plenty of water to facilitate passing the digested food through the system. Drink at least 1.7 litres per day.


Herbs
A cup of peppermint or camomile tea drunk after meals may help sooth local irritation or inflammation. Peppermint in particular is believed to relax intestinal muscles, thereby relieving associated pain.

 

 
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