It’s estimated that about 50% of people 60 and older have diverticulosis. It’s possible to have diverticulosis and not know it. Though there’s no special medical treatment for this common gastrointestinal (GI) condition, the team at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates takes a preventive approach to care. They provide guidance on how to manage diverticulosis and prevent complications like diverticulitis. To learn more about diverticulosis, call one of the offices in Richmond, Colonial Heights, Chesterfield, Henrico, or Mechanicsville, Virginia, or schedule an appointment online today.
Diverticulosis is a gastrointestinal (GI) condition characterized by the development of small pouches along the wall of your digestive tract. These pouches are called diverticula.
Though diverticulosis may affect any part of your GI tract, the pouches most often occur in the large intestine. Most people with diverticulosis have no problems or symptoms. However, the diverticula can bleed or become inflamed.
Inflammation of the diverticula is a condition called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis is a severe acute condition that may lead to an infection, intestinal blockage, or ruptured bowel.
Researchers are still investigating the cause of diverticulosis. However, they theorize that the pouches may develop when there’s abnormal pressure on the wall of the large intestine from muscle spasms or constipation. This excess pressure may then cause little pouches to form in the weaker areas of the colon.
You’re at greater risk of developing diverticulosis if it runs in your family.
You can have diverticulosis and not know it. Most people learn they have the disorder following a colonoscopy for some other health concern or colorectal cancer screening.
In addition to the colonoscopy, the other tests that diagnose diverticulosis include:
A barium enema is an X-ray in which your gastroenterologist administers a contrast liquid into your colon and takes an X-ray. The contrast material shows the outline of your colon and any diverticula.
A CT scan is an imaging test that uses a series of X-rays to create 3D images of your colon.
During a sigmoidoscopy, your gastroenterologist uses an endoscope — a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera — to evaluate the lower portion of your colon, or sigmoid colon. This test is less invasive than a colonoscopy.
The team at Richmond Gastroenterology Associates may recommend diet changes to help manage diverticulosis and prevent diverticulitis.
These diet changes may include increasing fluid and fiber intake to improve waste movement through your colon and prevent constipation. The team may also recommend limiting the amount of red meat in your diet.
Maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and smoking cessation may also help you manage your diverticulosis.
For comprehensive diverticulosis care, call Richmond Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today.