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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Feature:
Diverticulitis

"Eat fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grain products."

Susan Cassel

Susan Cassel decided not to wait for an emergency before getting treated for diverticulitis.
Photo: Naomi Miller

— Susan Cassel, Retired Librarian
New York Public Library

My problems with diverticulitis started on election night in 2000. I had a mild but constant pain in the lower left of my abdomen. When I went to the doctor a few days later, he ordered a CT scan. It showed that I had diverticulitis. He advised me to eat more fiber and take psyllium. I also took antibiotics. The pain went away, but I had another attack a few months later. At that time, the doctor's advice was to have elective surgery to remove the section of the colon that was causing the problems. I decided to do that, rather than face possible emergency surgery, which could have complications.

Although this was major surgery, thanks to good pain management at the hospital, I had little or none following the procedure. In order to heal more quickly, I walked the hospital corridors as much as I could. This also helped to pass nearly the week I spent at the hospital.

My recovery from surgery went well, and I have not had a recurrence of the pain or the diverticulitis. I once again eat fresh vegetables and fruit and whole grain products.

My two episodes of diverticulitis were not very severe, but my doctor had mentioned that they might persist and possibly worsen. I am glad that I chose elective surgery, so that I had no complications and no more recurrences. For a while after the surgery, I avoided eating certain foods, such as nuts and berries with seeds. Eventually, I found that I could eat these foods without any problem.

NIH Research to Results

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsor research programs to investigate diverticulosis and diverticulitis.

Investigation continues in several areas, including

  • a possible link between diverticular disease and inflammatory bowel disease
  • management of recurrent diverticular disease
  • use of probiotics ("good bacteria" in the form of dietary supplements or foods) in the prevention and treatment of diverticular disease
  • indications for surgery for uncomplicated diverticulitis

Participants in clinical trials can play a more active role in their own health care, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available, and help others by contributing to medical research. For information about current studies, visit www.ClinicalTrials.gov.

Read More "Diverticulitis" Articles

Dealing with Diverticulitis / Understanding Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis / "Eat fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grain products."

Winter 2010 Issue: Volume 5 Number 1 Page 21