In general, treatment for diverticulitis is focused on relieving symptoms and treating infections. Many physicians also suggest increasing intake of high-fiber foods and taking stool softeners or fiber supplements. Certain foods that may irritate or get caught in the diverticula, such as nuts, popcorn hulls, and seeds, should be avoided as a part of managing symptoms and preventing attacks.
In most cases, a high-fiber diet and, occasionally, mild pain medications will help relieve symptoms of diverticulitis. Sometimes, an attack is serious enough to require a hospital stay and possibly surgery.
Your doctor may also recommend taking a fiber product, such as Citrucel® or Metamucil®, once a day. These products are mixed with 8 ounces of water and provide about 2 to 3.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon.
Until recently, as part of a diverticulitis treatment plan, many doctors suggested avoiding foods with small seeds, such as tomatoes or strawberries, because they believed that particles could lodge in the diverticula and cause inflammation. However, it is now generally accepted that only foods that may irritate or get caught in the diverticula cause problems. These foods include:
- Popcorn hulls
- Sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, and sesame seeds.
The seeds in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, and raspberries -- as well as poppy seeds -- are generally considered harmless.
People differ in the amounts and types of foods they can eat. Decisions about diet should be made based on what works best for each person. Keeping a food diary may help identify individual items in your diet.
If cramps, bloating, and constipation are problems, your doctor may prescribe a short course of pain medication. However, many medications affect emptying of the colon, an undesirable side effect for people with diverticulosis.