The treatment for diverticulitis depends on the severity of the case. Mild diverticulitis can sometimes be treated at home with oral antibiotics and bed rest and a liquid or bland diet for a few days to give the colon a rest. Once the antibiotics do their thing and the infection clears, the individual is put on a diet that will gradually increase the fiber content of the diet until the level reaches a high-fiber content.
If the diverticulitis is severe or the patient is unable to take anything by mouth, hospitalization will be required so the antibiotics can be administered by intravenous method. Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which cover anaerobic bacteria and gram-negative rods, are used.
If the severe diverticulitis includes any complications such as peritonitis, abscess, fistula or total blockage or the attacks are recurring; surgery will be required. Peritonitis and total blockage both require emergency surgery, as they can be life-threatening situations.
Individuals who are discharged from the hospital are given strict instructions as to activity, and diet. They are usually placed on low residue diet to start with.
A low residue diet consists of white bread, refined pasta and cereals, and white rice. They can have limited servings of canned or well-cooked vegetables that do not include skins, seeds or pulp. They are also allowed to eat tender, ground, or well-cooked meat, fish, and poultry. Milk or yogurt, mild cheese, or cottage cheese is usually limited to 2 cups daily. They can drink pulp free juices, and broth from strained soups from the above list of allowed foods.
They must avoid whole grain breads, cereals and pastas, corn bread and muffins, or products that are made from whole grain products. They must avoid bran, seeds, or nuts of any kind. They also must avoid strong cheeses, yogurt that contains fruit skins or seeds, raw vegetables, tough meat and meat with gristle. They cannot eat crunchy peanut butter, millet, buckwheat, flax, or oatmeal. Dried beans, peas, and other legumes, dried fruits, berries, and other fruits with pulp or seeds are forbidden on this diet. They must also avoid eating any chocolate, coconut, or juices with pulp and highly spiced foods or dressings, pepper, hot sauces, and also caffeine in food or beverages.
Later after the colon has had sufficient time to heal the doctor will slowly increase the fiber content of the diet until the patient is eating a high fiber diet.
Foods that contain high fiber content are whole grain foods such as bran cereals and breads, fresh fruits that include the skin and pulp, dried or stewed fruits such as prunes, raisins, and apricots, root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and also potatoes. Raw or fresh vegetables, such as cabbage are also on the list for foods acceptable for a high-fiber diet. Lettuce is NOT considered to be high fiber; this is surprising to most people.
Cereal brands that are known to be high in fiber and are good to eat first thing in the morning are All-Bran, 100% Bran, Bran Buds, Oat Bran, Oatmeal, and Raisin Bran. Bran can cause rumbling intestinal gas and mild cramping so it is best to increase slowly the amount you eat until your body becomes accustomed to the bran. It is also important when you eat any high-fiber diet to drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water each day.
Fluids are important to any diet, but especially to the high-fiber diet because fiber absorbs liquid. Drink not only water, but also fruit juices with pulp and vegetable juices. You should eat your food slowly, chewing appropriately and thoroughly. Chewing in this fashion allows your saliva and digestive juices to mix thoroughly with the food so that the pancreas can break down the food more easily. It is also important to eat your meals at regular intervals throughout the day.