Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis happens when pouches, called diverticula, form in the wall of the colon. If these pouches get inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can be very painful.

It is not known what causes diverticula in the colon, but a low-fiber diet may play a role. Without fiber to add bulk to the stool, the colon has to work harder than normal to push the stool forward. The pressure from this may cause pouches to form in weak spots along the colon.

Diverticulitis happens when feces get trapped in the pouches and allows bacteria to grow. This can lead to inflammation or infection.

Symptoms of diverticulitis may last from a few hours to a week or more. The most common symptom is abdominal pain, usually in the lower left side, which is sometimes worse when you move. Other symptoms include:
  • Fever and chills
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • Not feeling like eating
The treatment depends on how bad your symptoms are and whether you have an infection. If you have an infection, we may prescribe antibiotics. You may need surgery only if diverticulitis doesn't get better with other treatment, or if you have problems such as chronic pain, a bowel obstruction, a fistula, or an abscess.

You may be able to prevent diverticulitis if you drink plenty of water, get regular exercise, and eat a high-fiber diet. A high-fiber diet includes whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.