Diverticulitis is a medical condition that affects the digestive system, specifically the large intestine or colon. It occurs when small pouches or sacs called diverticula form in the colon lining and become inflamed or infected. In the United States, it is estimated that up to 35% of adults over the age of 50 have diverticulosis, and about 200,000 people are hospitalized for diverticulitis each year.
The colon, which is part of the large intestine, is responsible for absorbing water and electrolytes from the undigested food that passes through it. When the colon is under pressure, the lining may bulge outward, forming small pouches or sacs called diverticula. Diverticula are common in people over the age of 40 and are usually harmless. However, in some cases, they can become inflamed or infected, leading to a condition known as diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis is characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, fever, nausea, and changes in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea. The exact cause of diverticulitis is not known, but several factors may contribute to its development.
In addition to causing digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits, diverticulitis can also cause fatigue and tiredness. In this article, we will explore why diverticulitis can cause fatigue and what you can do to manage it.
Causes of Diverticulitis
Low-Fiber Diet: A diet low in fiber is thought to be a significant risk factor for diverticulitis. A lack of fiber in the diet can cause the stool to become hard and difficult to pass, leading to increased pressure on the colon walls. This pressure can cause diverticula to form in the colon lining.
Age: Diverticulitis is more common in people over the age of 40. As we age, the walls of the colon become weaker, making it easier for diverticula to form.
Genetics: Genetics may also play a role in the development of diverticulitis. Studies have shown that people with a family history of diverticulitis are more likely to develop the condition.
Lifestyle Factors: Several lifestyle factors may increase the risk of developing diverticulitis. These include smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and high alcohol consumption.
Medications: Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, may increase the risk of developing diverticulitis.
Other Medical Conditions: Medical conditions that affect the colon, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may increase the risk of developing diverticulitis.
Microbiome: The microbiome, which is the collection of microorganisms that live in the gut, may play a role in the development of diverticulitis. Changes in the microbiome may contribute to inflammation and damage in the colon lining.
Why Am I So Tired With Diverticulitis?
There are several reasons why diverticulitis causes fatigue, this can include:
Diverticulitis causes inflammation in the colon, which can lead to fatigue. Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s response to infection and injury. However, chronic inflammation can cause fatigue, as the body’s immune system is constantly working to fight off the infection.
- Nutrient Deficiencies
Diverticulitis can cause nutrient deficiencies, which can also contribute to tiredness. When the colon is inflamed, it may not absorb nutrients from food as effectively. Additionally, if you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting as a result of diverticulitis, you may not be getting enough nutrients from the foods you eat.
Dehydration can also contribute to tiredness if you are suffering from diverticulitis. If you have diarrhea or vomiting as a result of diverticulitis, you may be losing fluids and becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, as it can make it harder for your body to function properly.
If you are taking medications to treat diverticulitis, they may also contribute to fatigue. Antibiotics, which are commonly used to treat diverticulitis, can cause fatigue as a side effect.
Is there a link between diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome?
No, diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are two distinct medical conditions that can affect a person’s health and well-being.
Diverticulitis is a condition that occurs when small pockets or pouches, called diverticula, form in the lining of the digestive tract, usually in the large intestine. These pouches can become inflamed or infected, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, and changes in bowel habits.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, on the other hand, is a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest and is not caused by an underlying medical condition. People with CFS may also experience other symptoms such as sleep problems, muscle and joint pain, and cognitive difficulties.
There is no direct link between diverticulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, some people with diverticulitis may experience fatigue and other symptoms as a result of the condition or its treatment. Similarly, people with chronic fatigue syndrome may experience digestive symptoms, but these are not typically related to diverticulitis.
How long does fatigue last after diverticulitis?
Fatigue is a common symptom of diverticulitis, particularly during the acute phase of the condition when the body is fighting the infection and inflammation. The duration of fatigue after diverticulitis can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the infection, the individual’s overall health, and their age.
In general, fatigue after diverticulitis can last for several weeks to a few months, but may continue for longer in some cases. It’s important to allow your body sufficient time to rest and recover during this time. Adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise can also help to boost energy levels and aid in recovery.
If fatigue persists for an extended period of time, or if other symptoms such as fever, pain, or changes in bowel habits persist or worsen, it’s important to follow up with your doctor to rule out any underlying complications or other medical conditions that may be contributing to your fatigue.
How Can You Manage Fatigue with Diverticulitis?
- Rest: One of the best things you can do to manage fatigue with diverticulitis is to rest. Your body needs time to heal, and getting enough rest can help your body fight off the infection and reduce inflammation.
- Stay Hydrated: It is also important to stay hydrated if you are experiencing fatigue as a result of diverticulitis. Drink plenty of fluids, including water, electrolyte drinks, and clear broth. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, as these can dehydrate you further.
- Eat a Nutritious Diet: Eating a nutritious diet can help reduce fatigue associated with diverticulitis. Eat foods that are high in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid processed foods and foods that are high in sugar or fat.
- Take Supplements: If you are experiencing nutrient deficiencies as a result of diverticulitis, taking supplements may help. Speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine which supplements may be right for you.
- Manage Stress: Stress can also contribute to fatigue. Find ways to manage stress, such as practicing meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
- Take Medications as Prescribed: If you are taking medications to treat diverticulitis, be sure to take them as prescribed. If you are experiencing side effects such as fatigue, speak to your doctor to see if there are alternative medications you can take.
When to see the doctor
If you are experiencing fatigue as a result of diverticulitis, it is important to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen. Here are some signs that you should see a doctor for diverticulitis-related fatigue:
- Severe or persistent fatigue: If your fatigue is severe or does not improve with rest, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
- New or worsening symptoms: If you experience new symptoms or your existing symptoms worsen, it may be a sign that your diverticulitis is getting worse or that you have developed complications.
- High fever: A high fever is a sign that your body is fighting an infection. If you have a fever of 101°F or higher, it is important to seek medical attention.
- Blood in stool: If you notice blood in your stool, it may be a sign of a more serious condition and you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Dehydration: If you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting as a result of diverticulitis, you may become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, dry mouth, and dark urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention.
In general, if you are experiencing severe or persistent symptoms related to diverticulitis, it is important to seek medical attention. Your doctor can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.
Diverticulitis can cause a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and fatigue. Fatigue can be caused by inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, and medications. To manage fatigue associated with diverticulitis, rest, stay hydrated, eat a nutritious diet, take supplements if necessary, manage stress, and take medications as prescribed. If you are experiencing severe or persistent fatigue, speak to your doctor.