What is the treatment for diverticular disease?
A high-fiber diet and, occasionally, mild pain medications will help relieve symptoms in most cases. Sometimes an attack of diverticulitis is serious enough to require a hospital stay and possibly surgery.
Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet may reduce symptoms of diverticulosis and prevent complications such as diverticulitis. Fiber keeps stool soft and lowers pressure inside the colon so that bowel contents can move through easily. The American Dietetic Association recommends 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day. The table below shows the amount of fiber in some foods that you can easily add to your diet.
Amount of Fiber in Some Foods
|apple, raw, with skin||1 medium||=||4 grams|
|peach, raw||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|pear, raw||1 medium||=||4 grams|
|tangerine, raw||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|Asparagus, fresh, cooked||4 spears||=||1 gram|
|Broccoli, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||2.5 grams|
|Brussels sprouts, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||2 grams|
|Cabbage, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||1.5 grams|
|Carrot, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||2.5 grams|
|Cauliflower, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||1.5 grams|
|Romaine lettuce||1 cup||=||1 gram|
|Spinach, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||2 grams|
|Summer squash, cooked||1 cup||=||3 grams|
|Tomato, raw||1||=||1 gram|
|Winter squash, cooked||1 cup||=||6 grams|
|Baked beans, canned, plain||1/2 cup||=||6.5 grams|
|Kidney beans, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||8 grams|
|Lima beans, fresh, cooked||1/2 cup||=||6.5 grams|
|Potato, fresh, cooked||1||=||3 grams|
|Bread, whole-wheat||1 slice||=||2 grams|
|Brown rice, cooked||1 cup||=||2.5 grams|
|Cereal, bran flake||3/4 cup||=||5 grams|
|Oatmeal, plain, cooked||3/4 cup||=||3 grams|
|White rice, cooked||1 cup||=||1 gram|
Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 15. Available at www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl. Accessed March 20, 2003.
The doctor may also recommend taking a fiber product such as Citrucel or Metamucil once a day. These products are mixed with water and provide about 2 to 3.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, mixed with 8 ounces of water.
Foods such as fruit seeds, nuts, popcorn hulls, and sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, and sesame seeds should be avoided.
Treatment for diverticulitis focuses on clearing up the infection and inflammation, resting the colon, and preventing or minimizing complications. An attack of diverticulitis without complications may respond to antibiotics within a few days if treated early.
To help the colon rest, the doctor may recommend bed rest and a liquid diet, along with a pain reliever.
An acute attack with severe pain or severe infection may require a hospital stay. Most acute cases of diverticulitis are treated with antibiotics and a liquid diet. The antibiotics are given by injection into a vein. In some cases, however, surgery may be necessary.