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What is Diverticulitis?

Written by Courteney

Posted on December 29, 2016 at 1:38 am

Diverticulosis is an intestinal condition whereby diverticula (small pouches) form in weak spots lining the wall of the large intestine. Diverticulitis is a potentially serious complication of diverticulosis that occurs when these pouches become inflamed or infected.

  • Diverticulosis pouches are usually only a few millimetres big.
  • Most diverticulitis infections occur when partially digested food particles become trapped in a diverticulum.
  • The pouches commonly form in the sigmoid colon (in the lower section).
  • Most cases of diverticulosis do not cause symptoms, but when symptoms such as infection or inflammation do occur, the condition is called diverticulitis or diverticular disease.
  • Symptoms of diverticulitis include: stomach pain, perforation of the colon, infection or changes in bowel movements.
  • Bleeding can occur if a blood vessel located in the diverticular pouches burst.
  • Another complication of diverticulitis is the formation of an abscess, a painful infected sore that forms outside the intestinal wall that can cause severe pain and stomach sickness.
  • In rare cases, abnormal passages between the colon and bladder may develop. These are called fistulas.
  • Diverticulosis is common in older adults. Approximately 58% of adults older than 60 have the condition (the majority of these cases are asymptomatic).
  • According to the National Institute of Health, only around 5% of people with diverticulosis will go on to develop the problematic sub-condition diverticulitis.
  • About 200,000 Americans are hospitalized annually for complications of diverticular disease (such as intestinal bleeding).
  • Too much fiber may be problematic for some diverticulosis sufferers. If you have the condition, it is important to discuss fiber intake with your doctor.
  • Some contributing factors to diverticulosis include: advanced aged, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and genetics.
  • Treatment for diverticulitis usually includes antibiotics, pain relievers and a liquid diet. Sometimes a low fiber diet is suggested long-term.
  • Only about 6% of diverticulitis sufferers require surgery.


That concludes our look at diverticulosis and diverticulitis! Thanks for visiting DocChat. Remember, if you have any health concerns, our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365.

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