Disclaimer. I am not a licensed health practitioner. This is just another post on knowledge and understanding you might wish to acquire in advance of a disaster in case no higher care is available. As long as our society is functioning, you should leave anything more substantial than applying a Band-Aid to the professionals. No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician. Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.
As was mentioned last month in the post on appendicitis, that disease is most common between the ages of 10 and 30. As we age, the risk of appendicitis decreases, and the chances increase for another disease with similar symptoms and similar risks for complications and death. It's called diverticular disease and encompasses diverticulosis and diverticulitis. It's kind of like appendicitis for the older generation.
Diverticulosis is the formation of sacs or pouches in the colon. It affects about 10% of Americans over the age of 40. It causes no symptoms nor pain, so most are quite blissfully aware they have the condition. Which is just great. However, between 10 and 25% of those with diverticulosis will eventually develop diverticulitis, and that is a problem. Still, it only affects 1 to 2.5% of all people over the age of 40. Diverticulitis is what happens when those asymptomatic diverticulosis pouches become inflamed or infected. At best, most cases of diverticulitis are painful, but they only require bed rest and gradual dietary changes. Severe diverticulitis may necessitate hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics, and surgery, none of which may be available post-collapse.
The inflamed/infected diverticula can perforate or burst just like the appendix, spilling the contents into the abdominal cavity, and can be just as deadly as a perforated appendix. The symptoms of the two diseases are very similar. Appendicitis patients generally have pain on the lower right side; diverticulitis usually presents with pain on the lower left side. This pain is also very sudden and severe. Other symptoms include abdominal tenderness, fever, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and rectal bleeding.
The risk factors for developing diverticular disease, as far as diet is concerned, are high animal protein/high fat diets that are very low in fiber. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, age, genetics, smoking, steroids, and opiates may also contribute.
However, Metamucil is not the answer. After the body has rested and recovered from its bout with diverticulitis, gradual changes to the diet should be made to reduce the number of flare-ups and opportunities for recurrence. Because if a person has had diverticulitis once, he's at greater risk for having it again. The best diet for preventing diverticulitis includes a lot of fiber and probiotics like yogurt. In addition, exercise is very beneficial to maintaining gut flow, as is going when you've got to go, rather than holding it in.
Conventional therapy for diverticulitis is complete bed rest. Physicians will sometimes prescribe antibiotics, with levofloxacin being the drug of choice. Ciprofloxacin and metronidazole are other options. Each is taken for 10 to 21 days. None of these is without the risk of side effects. Do not consume alcohol while taking metronidazole. With levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin there is a risk of tendinitis and/or tendon rupture during treatment and for several months afterwards. This risk is greatest in men over the age of sixty. Tylenol may be used for pain. NSAIDs are to be avoided due to the risk of bleeding.
Alternative therapy for diverticulitis has a whole host of options. In addition to bed rest, the patient may find relief with one or more of the following:
- licorice tea (1/2 teaspoon boiled for a few minutes in 1 cup water, strained, and taken 30 minutes before meals, two to three times per day)
- mallow tea (5 grams, about 1 teaspoon, dried and powdered mallow root in one cup boiling water, steeped for five minutes, and then strained, three times per day)
- grapefruit seed extract (12 drops in a glass of water, 3-4 times per day. After four days and as symptoms subside, decrease the number of times per day taking grapefruit seed extract.)
- raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and cayenne (1 tablespoon ACV and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper in one cup of warm water, twice per day. Symptoms should resolve within three days; relief should begin within a few hours.)
- slippery elm (1 teaspoon slippery elm tincture in 1 cup water, 2-3 times per day; takes 3-4 days to start feeling better. Continue until symptoms entirely resolve.)
- colloidal silver
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in 1 cup hot water
- oil of oregano
- papaya pills
- yarrow or goldenseal tea
Some patients have found relief applying lavender essential oil to the abdomen and massaging it in, as well as using it for aromatherapy.
Links to related posts:
For further reading:
Armageddon Medicine, pp 373-379.
The Survival Medicine Handbook, p 398.
Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd Edition, p 142.
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