As you age, you're more likely to develop diverticulosis, a disorder that affects the colon's walls. Indeed, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that approximately 58 per cent of persons over the age of 60 have diverticulosis.
Diverticulosis develops when small bulges (referred to as diverticula) form in weak sections of the colon's inner wall. Although these bulges develop naturally over time, some situations and lifestyle practices might hasten the process. For example, those who suffer from chronic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to develop diverticulosis, particularly at a younger age.
Generally, bulges do not create symptoms or concerns. The majority of people are unaware they have diverticulosis, as it is typically detected after a colonoscopy or CT scan for another reason.
Diverticulosis, on the other hand, can progress to a more dangerous condition called diverticulitis. This condition develops when one or more bulges become inflamed or infectious. It often manifests as pain in the lower abdomen, most frequently on the left side, and is frequently accompanied by fever and exhaustion. Diverticulitis is a serious infection that requires rapid medical attention and, in severe cases, hospitalization. In some instances, surgery may be required.
A haemorrhage in the lower intestine is another possible consequence of diverticulosis. As diverticula expand, the colon's wall weakens, perhaps resulting in a rupture of one of the small blood veins that supply the inner lining.
"The greatest method to avoid diverticulitis and bleeding is to prevent diverticulosis," says Dr Matthew Hamilton, a gastroenterologist affiliated with Harvard Medical School and medical editor of the Harvard Medical School Guide Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis.
Reduce your risk
To begin, address the risk factors for diverticulosis. Among them are the following:
Males with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, categorized as obese, had a 78% increased risk of diverticulosis compared to men with a normal BMI of less than 21.
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, smokers had a 46 per cent increased incidence of diverticulosis compared to nonsmokers.
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