Lupus and Diverticulitis

Today is 9/18/2017 and since three nights ago, I’ve struggled with what I deemed to be menstrual cramps or indigestion.

It began with a general pain near and around the lower abdomen and it progressively worsened to where it was causing pain to move.  By Saturday morning, it was isolated to the right lower abdomen and I suspected appendicitis and knowing the risks, I went to the ER.

After the CT scan, they concluded that I had Diverticulitis.

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulosis forms when pouches form in the walls of the colon and when these pouches get inflamed and infected, then it’s called diverticulitis.

It can cause intense pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea and some have an acute flare or struggle with chronic diverticulitis.

Diverticulitis Symptoms are Becoming Common

Diverticulitis is becoming increasingly common in the United States in those over-40 years of age. (1) This is like because as we age, we become increasingly sedentary, and eat SAD (Standard American Diet) which lacks fiber, and as a result, many begin to develop small, weak areas in the muscular wall of the colon.  Which is what This allows the colon’s lining to protrude through, forming tiny pouches called diverticula. 

What’s surprising is that its much more common, 50% of people in their 50’s, 60% at age 60 and 70% at age 70’s and 80’s have diverticula (no symptoms) (2).  

Approximately 20 percent of people with diverticulosis develop diverticulitis such as the one I with symptoms including abdominal pain, fever, and constipation.  However, those symptoms can vary greatly between individuals.

Acute Diverticulitis Symptoms

I’ve not had the “acute” symptoms but I can tell you I’ve had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and I believe Lupus and Autoimmune patients are more prone to Diverticulitis and/or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Some Acute Symptoms are as follows: Lower abdominal pain (occurs on left side in 70 percent of patients; often described as crampy)

  1. Lower abdominal pain (occurs on left side in 70 percent of patients; often described as crampy)
  2. Change in bowel habits
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Constipation
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Flatulence
  7. Bloating
  8. Fever

The symptoms are dependent on various factors including the location of the inflammation and the severity of the inflammatory process.

It’s important to note that some may have a single episode while others may never have the problem again.

Symptoms Caused by Complicated Diverticulitis May Be Life-Threatening

In some cases, diverticulitis leads to bleeding; infections; small tears, or blockages in the colon.  Bleeding can lead to blood in the stool.  The infected diverticula can form abscesses or can break and leak the infected fluid into the abdominal cavity, which can lead to sepsis (body-wide infection), fever, chills, and severe abdominal pain.

Fistulas (connection between organs) can form if the infection spreads outside the colon and cause the colon tissue to stick to the nearby organs such as the bladder.  This may cause chronic, severe bladder infections with associated pelvic pain.  Scarring can be caused by this infection and lead to a partial or total blockage of the intestine, intestine obstruction.

When the intestine is blocked, it can result in severe constipation, bloating, and pain can occur in which case hospitalization and surgery are required.

Diverticulitis May Resemble Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Here’s the meat of this blog post.  Truth is that not all people with diverticulitis present like textbook cases, there are lots of variables between individuals.  What’s becoming more evident is that an increasing number of people have a chronic, low-grade form of the diverticular disease with symptoms mimicking irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). (3-4)

Causes

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The causes are low-grade inflammation, dysbiosis (microbiota), hypersensitivity of the gut tissue, and abnormal gut motility. (5)  A lot like leaky gut, right?

IBS is a lot like Fibromyalgia in that you rule out everything else and if you still have those symptoms of abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea then you’ll be considered to have IBS.

What to Do If You Suspect Diverticulitis

Here’s the real deal.  Whether you have an acute, severe attack of diverticulitis or a more chronic presentation of the disease, there are options for you.  Conventional treatments involve antibiotics and surgery but new evidence shows that they may not be necessary.

In fact, there’s enough research showing the benefits of natural treatments like probiotics and vitamin D.  The good news is that more gastroenterologists are beginning to recommend them to their patients.

If you have Lupus and have digestive issues, please, begin your regimen with quality Probiotics and Vitamin D to prevent situations like mine.

If you have diverticulitis symptoms, seek out a healthcare provider who is up-to-date on the latest research that shows the benefits of natural treatments like probiotics, vitamin D, and more.

Rebel’s Thoughts

I’ve been living with Lupus for over 19 years and during that time been exposed to chemo, prednisone, pain medications, anti-depressants, Plaquenil, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medications.

Do such meds alter my gut flora?  ABSOLUTELY!

Not a single doctor has mentioned anything about my Lupus, dismissed it completely because this is a condition in and of itself.  That’s what gets me on my soapbox.

I am writing this article from a hospital where they serve processed foods and dismiss the quality of foods and place such emphasis on medications.

I called own to the cafeteria to discuss my personal food preferences and to see if I can have something gluten-free and they said they don’t have gluten-free options.  I had to a la carte my selection and made the best of the meal with steamed veggies.

The point is that Conventional Medicine looks so much into the disease with the microscope that they miss the big picture.  The “food is thy medicine” theory by Hippocrates is completely overlooked.  My resident physicians were sleep deprived, staying awake with coffee, and did not look to me as the epitome of health.

They were busy in their smart brains of  “standardized” medication protocols to address my ills, PERIOD.   They told me I didn’t need to change my diet that this is one of those conditions where the cause is unknown.

Nurses, techs, Dietitians, Physicians, all staff, are just following the policy and procedural process.

I refuse to be a recipient of those procedures.  This is precisely why I fight so hard for my health, because if I don’t,  nobody else will.

Want to address your gut?  I hightly recommend my Alkaline Detox Protocol and our Lupus Gut Healing Guide and/or Lupus Gut Healing Protocol.  Lastly, if you nothing else, please get on the probiotics, it’s the real deal.

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References

  1. JAMA Sug.2014:149(3):292-303.
  2.  Debunking Myths About Diverticular Disease. Medscape. Apr 07, 2014.
  3. Clin Gastroeneterol Hepatol.2013 Dec:11(12): 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.04.048.
  4. Therap Adv Gastroenterol.2013 May:6(3):205-213.
  5.  Dig Dis Sci. 2015 Oct 12

 

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