Diverticulitis: Cause, Signs & Treatments

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  • 0:03 Weakness Due to Age
  • 0:53 Colonic Diverticula
  • 2:25 What is Diverticulitis?
  • 3:57 Diagmosis and Treatment
  • 5:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will discuss how age, fiber, and muscle weakness plays a role in a condition called diverticulitis. We'll also cover what diagnostic tests can be run and which treatment options may be employed.

Weakness Due to Age

If you've noticed, most of your favorite athletes don't last very long in a sport. This is doubly true if the sport is a high-intensity one, such as football, the other football (soccer), hockey and the like. Sure, skeletal problems, such as disc disease, arthritis and broken bones, play a role in keeping down the longevity of an athlete's professional years, but the other thing that begins to weaken with use and abuse over many years is an athlete's muscles.

Excessive wear, tear, inflammation, bruising, stresses and strains upon the muscles begin to deteriorate the athlete's muscles and tendons, weakening them compared to the young bucks coming in through the ranks.

This lesson will point out how muscle weakness due to inappropriate stresses and strains also results in internal organ damage to the body over a long period of time.

Colonic Diverticula

If someone doesn't eat a diet with enough fiber, then, over time, they may develop colonic diverticula in their colon. Colonic diverticula are small outpouchings of the colon that form as a result of herniation of the mucosal and submucosal layers of the colon through the muscularis layer. By the way, the singular form of diverticula is a diverticulum.

Anyways, the mucosal layer of the colon is the superficial-most layer of the colon, one that comes into contact with the feces. The submucosa is like a 'sub'marine; it's right underneath the superficial layer, our mucosa. And underneath the submucosa is the muscular layer of the colon, the muscles that help to propel the feces forward and eventually out of the body.

If a person doesn't eat a diet with enough fiber, the colon has to squeeze extra hard to try and get the hard stools expelled out of the body. With time, the walls of the intestines begin to weaken, just like a person would weaken if they had to do a lot of hard work in a day or over a lifetime. This weakness leads to the formation of diverticula.

I don't think you're too surprised by this concept of weakness leading to herniation. I'm sure you know that weak spots in the abdominal wall, like the umbilical area, can create herniations of intestines through these spots. In our example, it's a weaknesses in the colonic, as opposed to the abdominal, wall that allow for these outpouchings to occur.

What Is Diverticulosis?

Once again, this weakness doesn't happen overnight, helping to explain in part why colonic diverticulosis, the asymptomatic state of having colonic diverticula, mainly affects people over the age of 50.

Problems only begin to occur when colonic diverticula, most commonly found in the descending colon, are inflamed or infected. This occurs because diverticula divert feces. As the feces pass through the descending colon, little pieces of poop get stuck in these outpouchings. Sometimes, this doesn't cause a problem, and other times it causes infection and inflammation.

The infection and inflammation occurs because the pouches become filled with lots of bacteria-laden feces. The pressure building within these pouches as more and more feces becomes trapped crushes and erodes the colonic tissue, resulting in inflammation.

This inflammation, physical pressure and erosion leads the colonic tissue and the blood vessels within it to become compromised with cracks through which bacteria, overgrowing already in these pouches, enter and cause disease.

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