What Should I Eat During a Diverticulitis Flare Up?

Posted By Author on November 15, 2022

women realizing bad food and lifestyle resulting in diverticulitis flare up

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a condition that involves the inflammation of the small pouches that line your digestive system. When the diverticula, most often the ones found in the lower part of the large intestine (colon), become inflamed or infected, unpleasant symptoms often result.

Diverticulosis (the growth of these small, bulging pouches) is a fairly common condition, usually found in patients over age 40. It does not cause major health problems – but when these pouches become inflamed, medication and diet changes may be recommended to alleviate symptoms.

Read on to learn more about potential treatment options, then contact your local gastroenterologist in Charleston, SC! 

Signs and Symptoms of Diverticulitis 

Diverticulosis is considered common, particularly as people age. In fact, more than 30% of American adults (between age 50 and 59) and more than 70% of older Americans (over age 80) have diverticulosis. While it occurs often, less than 5% of cases develop into diverticulitis.

When the diverticula become inflamed or infected, you may experience the following:

  • Pain (constant and lasting several days, usually originating from the lower left side of the abdomen)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea (not as common)

It is important to call your GI specialist immediately if pain, accompanied by constant nausea, diarrhea, and unexplained fever, persists. Here at Charleston GI, our gastroenterologists in Charleston are here to help.

Foods to Eat to Prevent Diverticulitis

Dietary changes can offer much-needed relief, but there have been many rumors over the years about which foods to avoid. For instance, eating popcorn and seeds was once thought to trigger a flare up, but there is no medical evidence to back up this claim. 

Because constipation often contributes to the development of diverticula, diverticulitis is often more severe in patients experiencing chronic constipation. That said, a low-fiber diet may cause a flare up. Adding fiber and foods like these can help soften the stool and allow its easy passage through the GI tract: 

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, nuts, etc.)
  • Whole grains

Foods to Eat During a Diverticulitis Flare Up

For patients currently experiencing a flare up, our Charleston GI doctors recommend a diet low in fiber. Start by sticking to clear liquids (water, clear broth, clear, pulp-free fruit juice, etc.) for a day or two, and then add the following foods:

  • Grains (white rice, white crackers, low-fiber white pasta, white bread) 
  • Low-fiber starches (skinless potatoes, low-fiber cereals)
  • Proteins (meat, eggs, tofu, seafood
  • Fruits in moderation (canned fruits like peaches or pears, applesauce, ripe bananas, ripe melon) 

Other Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with diverticulitis, leaving the condition untreated can cause serious health complications.

  • Mild: For the mild cases, a liquid diet, stool softeners, and antibiotics may be all that is needed.
  • Severe: But more severe cases may require IV antibiotics or the draining of the abdominal abscess. Some people with diverticulosis may need surgery, either a primary bowel resection (removal of the diseased section) or a bowel resection with colostomy (diversion of the colon to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall).

If you are experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, or fever, you may be having a diverticulitis flare up. Here at Charleston GI, our  board-certified gastroenterologists are experienced in treating a wide variety of conditions – including diverticulosis and diverticulitis.

We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads. Charleston GI doctors are ready 5 days a week to offer you medical relief.

There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today! with Charleston GI today! 

More Helpful Gastrointestinal Blogs