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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis: Two Completely Preventable Colon Diseases

Hey y'all!

Last weekend my youngest son graduated from high school! It was a great experience but I didn't have time to create a new blog post. Today, however, I want to get into how the colon can progress from being healthy to being so diseased doctors want to cut parts of it out. All of this can be prevented by taking care of our bodies naturally. If you like, please get yourselves up to speed by reading the following back posts:

Introducing Detox Herbs

Detoxing 101: The Role of the Colon in Detoxification

Colon Anatomy, Healthy Colon Function, and Constipation

When we have healthy colon function, toxic waste known as fecal material or feces (that's "poop" in the vernacular, people) is escorted out of the body through intestinal wave movements called peristalsis. I included a You Tube video showing gastric peristalsis in one of the above posts, but I'll repost it here, as well:

Notice the beautiful pink tissue in this healthy person.

If we do not eat a healthy diet, drink enough water (half gallon to a gallon or more each day, depending on activity level and outdoor temperatures), exercise, and get adequate rest, our digestion can slow down and our colons can get congested (constipation). As our bodies age, constipation is quite common. We can develop the "middle aged spread" if we do not take a "healthy lifestyle" seriously. This is when colon problems usually start to show up. However, we are seeing more and more colon issues among young people, as well.

Middle aged spread is unsightly in both males and females. In Texas, we call them "beer bellies," but it's the barbeque, white bread, potato salad, baked beans, sweet tea, and brownies with ice cream that went along with the beer that causes a waistline like this- image by

In this Xray, the outline of the large intestines has been drawn in green. You can see the dark shadows inside the colon of this patient. This colon is impacted with old fecal material. Notice how much space the colon takes up in the abdomen. This compromises the space for all of the internal organs. The skin of the abdomen stretches to make room for the expanding colon. Fat is deposited all over the body in increasingly thick layers, because the fat cannot be eliminated fast enough.

Constipation Xray- image by Dr. Altin Cekodhima, M.D.

Over time, chronic constipation can weaken the walls of the colon. Bowel sacs, called diverticulae (one sac is called a diverticulum) can form. These little sacs are filled with hard feces. They can appear anywhere on the colon, but are usually found in the rectum or sigmoid colon. This is diverticulitis.

Diverticula- image by

Diverticulitis is painful. The fecal obstruction causes the bowel sac to become inflamed (sore). There is not a good blood flow to the area. The pain is usually felt in the lower left side of the abdomen, because that is where the blockage is. There may be a fever because the area is infected, nausea, and vomiting with the pain. However, there is no blood in the stool.

In diverticulitis, the bowel sacs can rupture, which is called a perforation. The infection can spread outside of the colon and into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to septic shock and even death. 

When these bowel sacs become inflamed, they bleed and become infected from the fecal material. The blood mixes with the feces, and leaves the body during a bowel movement. The patient sees bright red blood along with stool in the toilet bowl, freaks out, and heads to the emergency room of the hospital. This is diverticulosis.

In the emergency room, the doctors will order a complete blood count, an abdominal Xray, and a CT ("cat") scan. They already are pretty sure the patient has either diverticulitis or diverticulosis, because the two diseases are so common. 

  • The CBC will show an elevated white blood cell count, indicative of the body fighting off an infection. Bleeding causes anemia, so the hematocrit will be low with diverticulosis.
  • The abdominal Xray will reveal whether or not any gas has escaped from the diverticulae (bowel pockets/sacs) and is trapped up near the diaphram.
  • The CT scan will pinpoint either the diverticulosis or the obstruction in diverticulitis. The doctor will think, "Yup, I was right!"
  • A colonoscopy may be ordered for diverticulosis, but absolutely nothing should be placed in the rectum for diverticulitis. The risk of perforating the colon wall is just too great.
Then the doctor will come to the patient in the hospital and say, "Mr. Smith, the reason you are bleeding out of your rectum is because your diet is horrible! You need a high fiber diet!" The doctor will prescribe a stool softener, recommend something like Metamucil, hand the patient a diet sheet, and possibly set up an appointment with a clinical nutritionist.

For diverticulitis, the treatment is different. The doctor will tell the patient to fast. Why? To give the colon a break! An antibiotic will be prescribed, because the colon is infected. The doctor may even empty the contents of the stomach with a nasogastric tube.

If those bowel pockets "perf"- burst open and empty feces into the abdomen, the patient will be sent to surgery. The surgeon will cut out the part of the colon with the rupture, and redirect the colon outside the skin. That's right, y'all. Your abdomen will look like this after surgery:

Ileostomy bag- image courtesy of

Then six weeks later the patient has another surgery to put the colon back together so he or she can have a bowel movement the normal way.

Alternatively, you can read this blog for free, get educated, and start taking responsibility for your own health.

P.S.: I love you guys! I'm almost up to 10,000 hits in just six months! Please tell me the topics you are interested in seeing, and I'll start getting them up here!

1 comment:

  1. I believe that Diverticulitis and Diverticulosis are, two curable diseases. A blog mentioned about this. It said that Diverticulitis can be cured with bed rest, medicine and diet.

    here is the link to that blog []

    By: Calming Blends