Diverticulitis is a medical condition that impacts the digestive system, specifically affecting the large intestine or colon. This condition arises when small pouches or sacs, referred to as diverticula, form in the lining of the colon and subsequently become inflamed or infected.
In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 35% of adults over the age of 50 have diverticulosis, while diverticulitis leads to around 200,000 hospitalizations annually.
The colon, a vital part of the large intestine, plays a crucial role in absorbing water and electrolytes from undigested food passing through it. Under pressure, the colon’s lining may bulge outward, creating small pouches or sacs known as diverticula.
These diverticula are common among individuals over the age of 40 and are usually benign. However, in certain cases, they can become inflamed or infected, giving rise to the condition known as diverticulitis.
Symptoms of diverticulitis include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, fever, nausea, and alterations in bowel habits like constipation or diarrhea. While the exact cause of diverticulitis remains uncertain, several factors may contribute to its development.
Diverticulitis can cause fatigue and tiredness in addition to digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits.
In this article, we will look at why diverticulitis can cause fatigue and how to treat it.
Table of Content
- Diverticulitis Causes
- Why Am I So Tired With Diverticulitis?
- So, Is there a link between diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome?
- How long does fatigue last after diverticulitis?
- How Can You Manage Fatigue with Diverticulitis?
- Can diverticulitis be cured?
- What foods heal diverticulosis?
- What antibiotics treat diverticulitis?
- When to see the doctor
Factors Contributing to Diverticulitis:
- Microbiome: The gut’s microbiome, comprising various microorganisms, may influence the development of diverticulitis. Alterations in the microbiome can contribute to inflammation and damage in the colon lining.
- Medications: The use of specific medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, may increase the likelihood of diverticulitis.
- Age: Diverticulitis is more prevalent in individuals over the age of 40. As we age, the walls of the colon weaken, making it easier for diverticula to develop.
- Genetics: Genetics may also play a role in the onset of diverticulitis. Studies indicate that individuals with a family history of the condition are at a higher risk of developing it.
- Lifestyle Factors: Certain lifestyle factors can elevate the risk of diverticulitis. These include smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Low-Fiber Diet: A significant risk factor for diverticulitis is a diet low in fiber. Insufficient fiber intake can lead to hard and difficult-to-pass stools, exerting increased pressure on the colon walls. This pressure can cause the formation of diverticula in the colon lining.
- Other Medical Conditions: Underlying medical conditions affecting the colon, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can heighten the risk of diverticulitis.
Why Am I So Tired With Diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis can lead to fatigue due to several reasons, including:
- Inflammation: The condition triggers inflammation in the colon, which can contribute to fatigue. While inflammation is a normal response of the body to infection or injury, chronic inflammation can lead to fatigue as the immune system continuously works to combat the infection.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Diverticulitis may cause nutrient deficiencies, further adding to tiredness. Inflamed colon walls may not efficiently absorb nutrients from the ingested food. Moreover, experiencing diarrhea or vomiting due to diverticulitis can reduce nutrient intake from the diet.
- Dehydration: Fatigue can also be linked to dehydration resulting from diverticulitis. Diarrhea and vomiting, common symptoms of the condition, lead to fluid loss and subsequent dehydration. When the body lacks proper hydration, fatigue sets in as it becomes challenging for the body to function optimally.
- Medications: The fatigue experienced during diverticulitis treatment may be associated with the medications used. Antibiotics, often prescribed for diverticulitis management, can sometimes induce fatigue as a side effect.
So, Is there a link between diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome?
No, diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are two distinct medical conditions that impact an individual’s health and well-being.
Diverticulitis occurs when small pouches or diverticula form in the lining of the digestive tract, particularly in the large intestine. These pouches can become inflamed or infected, leading to symptoms like abdominal pain, fever, and changes in bowel habits.
On the other hand, chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder characterized by persistent extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest and isn’t attributable to any underlying medical condition. People with CFS may also experience additional symptoms such as sleep problems, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive difficulties.
There is no direct link between diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, it’s possible that some individuals with diverticulitis might experience fatigue and other symptoms due to the condition or its treatment. Similarly, individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome may encounter digestive symptoms, but these are typically unrelated to diverticulitis.
How long does fatigue last after diverticulitis?
Fatigue is a prevalent symptom experienced during the acute phase of diverticulitis, as the body combats infection and inflammation. The duration of post-diverticulitis fatigue can vary, influenced by factors like the infection’s severity, the individual’s overall health, and their age.
Typically, fatigue after diverticulitis may persist for several weeks to a few months, although it can extend beyond that in some cases. It is crucial to allow the body ample time for rest and recovery during this period. Prioritizing adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise can aid in boosting energy levels and supporting recovery.
However, if fatigue continues for an extended period or if other symptoms like fever, pain, or changes in bowel habits persist or worsen, it is essential to consult a doctor. Medical attention can help rule out underlying complications or other medical conditions that may contribute to persistent fatigue. Timely follow-up with a healthcare professional ensures proper evaluation and appropriate management to promote overall well-being and recovery.
How Can You Manage Fatigue with Diverticulitis?
Tips for Managing Fatigue with Diverticulitis:
- Manage Stress: Stress can exacerbate fatigue. Find effective ways to manage stress, such as practicing meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in yoga.
- Consider Supplements: If diverticulitis leads to nutrient deficiencies, consider taking supplements. Consult your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine suitable supplements for your specific needs.
- Stay Hydrated: Hydration is crucial if you are experiencing fatigue due to diverticulitis. Drink ample fluids, including water, electrolyte drinks, and clear broth. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Rest: Allow your body the necessary time to heal by getting sufficient rest. Resting adequately can aid in fighting off the infection and reducing inflammation associated with diverticulitis.
- Follow a Nutritious Diet: Consuming a nutritious diet can help alleviate fatigue linked to diverticulitis. Opt for nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Steer clear of processed foods and those high in sugar or fat.
- Adhere to Medications: If you are prescribed medications for diverticulitis, ensure you take them as directed. In case you experience side effects like fatigue, discuss alternative medication options with your doctor.
Can diverticulitis be cured?
Diverticulitis can be effectively treated and managed, but it is not always completely curable. Diverticulitis treatment is determined by the severity of the condition. Mild diverticulitis is often treated with rest, a clear liquid diet, and antibiotics to treat any infection.
What foods heal diverticulosis?
A high-fiber diet promotes healing and helps with diverticulosis management. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all good for your colon. Increasing fiber intake gradually and staying hydrated can help prevent complications and improve digestive health. A low-fiber diet during the acute phase of diverticulitis may be required to aid in the healing process.
What antibiotics treat diverticulitis?
Several antibiotics are used to treat diverticulitis, including ciprofloxacin, metronidazole, amoxicillin-clavulanate, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and ampicillin-sulbactam. The antibiotic used is determined by a healthcare professional based on the severity of the condition and individual health factors.
When to see the doctor
When experiencing fatigue due to diverticulitis, it is essential to be vigilant about your symptoms and seek medical attention promptly if they persist or worsen. Here are some indications that you should consult a doctor for diverticulitis-related fatigue:
- Severe or Persistent Fatigue: If your fatigue is intense or fails to improve with rest, it may signal a more severe underlying condition that requires medical attention.
- New or Worsening Symptoms: The emergence of new symptoms or the aggravation of existing ones could indicate the progression of diverticulitis or potential complications.
- High Fever: A high fever, especially one reaching 101°F or higher, is a sign of the body fighting an infection. In such cases, seeking medical attention is crucial.
- Blood in Stool: The presence of blood in your stool may indicate a more serious condition and should prompt immediate medical attention.
- Dehydration: Diarrhea or vomiting due to diverticulitis can lead to dehydration. Signs of dehydration, such as dizziness, dry mouth, and dark urine, necessitate medical evaluation.
In general, if you experience severe or persistent symptoms related to diverticulitis, seeking medical attention is of utmost importance.
A qualified healthcare professional can assess the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend an appropriate course of treatment to ensure timely and effective management.
Diverticulitis can cause a variety of symptoms such as abdominal pain, bowel changes, and fatigue. Inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, and medications can all contribute to fatigue.
Rest, stay hydrated, eat a nutritious diet, take supplements as needed, manage stress, and take medications as prescribed to manage fatigue caused by diverticulitis. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe or persistent fatigue.