Living with diverticulitis begins with knowing when to call the doctor. If a person has been diagnosed with diverticulitis or suspects that they have it and have been bleeding from the anus and have signs of shock such as lightheadedness, restlessness, confusion, or signs of fear, have shallow, or rapid breathing, their skin is moist, cool and perhaps they are sweating profusely. They may even feel weak, have excessive thirst, are experiencing nausea, or are vomiting. Someone in shock may also have an abnormal increase in heart rate or an abnormal decrease in blood pressure. Someone in the later stage of shock has a change in consciousness, does not respond, has a loss of consciousness, or changes in behavior. Their face is pale and their lips may be blue. Their earlobes may also be blue. Shock occurs when the individual has lost too much blood. If you notice any of these signs call 911 immediately.
You should also call your health care provider if you are experiencing fever or chills, nausea and vomiting, have unusual changes in your bowel movement or abdominal swelling or if you have blood in your stools. If you experience pain that worsens when you move, or when you urinate. Also call and schedule an appointment if you have an abnormal vaginal discharge and you have diverticulitis or suspect that you do.
Other signs that signal immediate need for medical attention in an individual with diverticulitis is if they have severe pain in the abdomen that get progressively worse, or pain that get worse when the individual coughs. If you notice a stool that is mostly blood, or stool that is maroon-colored liquid, or clots of blood or may look black, or tarlike. If you experience shoulder pain, have cramping in your abdomen that does not get better, or pass gas or stool from your urethra while urinating.
Medical professionals that an individual with diverticulitis may be seen by are family medicine physician, general practitioner, an internist, a physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, a gastroenterologist, or surgeon. These medical members become the individual with diverticulitis medical team.
During the initial diagnosis and after treatment for follow up care the individual with diverticulitis will have to endure many medical appointment and tests including complete blood count (CBC), a urinalysis, a abdominal x-ray, a digital rectal exam, and a fecal occult blood test.
Depending on the symptoms presented, your healthcare professional may also order these tests:
A computed tomography (CT) scans, a barium enema x-ray, a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, as well as an upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series, an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a technetium-labeled red blood cell bleeding scan, or an angiogram.
When an individual with diverticulitis is receiving initial treatment they may have to take antibiotics and pain relievers, and have a change in diet that starts with being on clear liquids or a bland diet followed by learning how to increase fiber content in the diet slowly.
Individuals with diverticulitis may have to be hospitalized if the symptoms of diverticulitis worsen, or if they are unable to eat or drink, if they need antibiotics in a vein (intravenous, or IV). Surgery is often needed when sections of the colon have been destroyed, or if there are any complications from diverticulitis such as peritonitis or a total blockage.
Ongoing treatment is usually necessary for the individual with diverticulitis such as regulating the diet to gradually increase the fiber, get plenty of fluids daily, and have regular doctor appointments to monitor the diverticulitis.
If the individual’s diverticulitis worsens or complications such as an abscess, perforation, or bowel obstruction develop than surgery to remove the affected part may be necessary.
To prevent diverticulitis from coming back the individual will always have to be careful to eat a diet high in fiber, and low in fat and red meat, and to drink plenty of water each day, and to exercise regularly.