Diverticulitis: Care Instructions

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Diverticulitis in the intestine

Overview

Diverticulitis occurs when pouches form in the wall of the colon and become inflamed or infected. It can be very painful.

Doctors aren't sure what causes diverticulitis. There is no proof that foods such as nuts, seeds, or berries cause it or make it worse. A low-fiber diet may cause the colon to work harder to push stool forward. Pouches may form because of this extra work.

It may be hard to think about healthy eating while you're in pain. But as you recover, you might think about how you can use healthy eating for overall better health. Healthy eating may help you avoid future attacks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Stay with liquids or a bland diet (plain rice, bananas, dry toast or crackers, applesauce) until you are feeling better. Then you can return to regular foods and slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet.
  • Use a heating pad set on low on your belly to relieve mild cramps and pain.
  • Get extra rest until you are feeling better.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not use laxatives or enemas unless your doctor tells you to use them.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You are vomiting.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.