Prompt treatment for diverticulitis is important because infection can cause complications like abscess (an infected area that can destroy tissue); perforation of the colon, which can let the infection leak out into the abdominal cavity; and peritonitis, an infection in the abdominal cavity that can be very serious and requires immediate medical attention. Treatment usually involves two steps: antibiotics to clear up the infection, and diet restrictions while the colon heals.
Antibiotics: The doctor usually prescribes a 7 to 10-day course of antibiotics, and the doctor’s office will probably check with you daily to make sure the infection is not getting worse (if it is, you may need to check into the hospital for more aggressive antibiotic treatment).
Diet therapy: Until the colon heals, you’ll need to be on a liquid diet (water, broth, Jell-O, etc.) or a low fiber diet. After the infection is gone, the doctor will want you to switch to a high fiber diet. The new diet will not get rid of existing pouches in the colon, but the bulk from the extra fiber will help the stool move through your system better, which in turn decreases pressure and helps prevent the development of more pouches and protect against future infection.
Other medications: Pain relievers and medicines to control intestinal cramping may also be prescribed.
People with serious infection, as well as the elderly and those who are imunocompromised or taking corticosteriods, may have to be hospitalized to receive intravenous antibiotics and fluids. Surgery to remove part of the colon may be necessary for people who have frequent infections or who develop severe complications like abscess or perforation of the colon.
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