Disease: Diverticulitis


    Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system. They are found most often in the lower part of the large intestine (colon). Diverticula are common, especially after age 40, and seldom cause problems.

    Sometimes, however, one or more of the pouches become inflamed or infected. That condition is known as diverticulitis (die-vur-tik-yoo-LIE-tis). Diverticulitis can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a marked change in your bowel habits.

    Mild diverticulitis can be treated with rest, changes in your diet and antibiotics. Severe or recurring diverticulitis may require surgery.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    The signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include:

    • Pain, which may be constant and persist for several days. Pain is usually felt in the lower left side of the abdomen, but may occur on the right, especially in people of Asian descent.
    • Nausea and vomiting.
    • Fever.
    • Abdominal tenderness.
    • Constipation or, less commonly, diarrhea.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Diverticula usually develop when naturally weak places in your colon give way under pressure. This causes marble-sized pouches to protrude through the colon wall.

    Diverticulitis occurs when diverticula tear, resulting in inflammation or infection or both.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Diverticulitis is usually diagnosed during an acute attack. Because abdominal pain can indicate a number of problems, your doctor will need to rule out other causes for your symptoms.

    Your doctor will likely start with a physical examination, including checking your abdomen for tenderness. Women, in addition, generally have a pelvic examination to rule out pelvic disease.

    After that, your doctor will likely recommend:

    • Blood and urine tests, to check for signs of infection.
    • Pregnancy test for women of childbearing age, to rule out pregnancy as a cause of abdominal pain.
    • Liver function tests, to rule out other causes of abdominal pain.
    • Stool test, to rule out infection in people who have diarrhea.
    • CT scan, which can indicate inflamed or infected pouches and confirm a diagnosis of diverticulitis. CT can also indicate the severity of diverticulitis and guide treatment.

    Diagnosis at Mayo Clinic

    Diverticulitis can be difficult to diagnose because abdominal pain is a symptom of many digestive disorders. Mayo Clinic has radiologists who specialize in digestive disorders and have experience distinguishing diverticulitis from other conditions.

    Mayo's digestive disease specialists (gastroenterologists) have experience diagnosing the severity of diverticulitis. Precise diagnosis is important for appropriate treatment.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    About 25 percent of people with acute diverticulitis develop complications, which may include:

    • An abscess, which occurs when pus collects in the pouch.
    • A blockage in your colon or small intestine caused by scarring.
    • An abnormal passageway (fistula) between sections of bowel or the bowel and bladder.
    • Peritonitis, which can occur if the infected or inflamed pouch ruptures, spilling intestinal contents into your abdominal cavity. Peritonitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Alternative medicine

    Some experts suspect that people who develop diverticulitis may not have enough good bacteria in their colons. Probiotics — foods or supplements that contain beneficial bacteria — are sometimes suggested as a way to prevent diverticulitis. But that advice hasn't been scientifically validated.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Lifestyle and home remedies

    To help prevent diverticulitis:

    • Exercise regularly. Exercise promotes normal bowel function and reduces pressure inside your colon. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days.
    • Eat more fiber. High-fiber foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, soften waste material and help it pass more quickly through your colon. This reduces pressure inside your digestive tract. However, it isn't clear whether a high-fiber diet decreases the risk of diverticulitis. Eating seeds and nuts isn't associated with developing diverticulitis.
    • Drink plenty of fluids. Fiber works by absorbing water and increasing the soft, bulky waste in your colon. But if you don't drink enough liquid to replace what's absorbed, fiber can be constipating.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Risk factors

    Several factors may increase your risk of developing diverticulitis:

    • Aging. The incidence of diverticulitis increases with age.
    • Obesity. Being seriously overweight increases your odds of developing diverticulitis. Morbid obesity may increase your risk of needing more-invasive treatments for diverticulitis.
    • Smoking. People who smoke cigarettes are more likely than nonsmokers to experience diverticulitis.
    • Lack of exercise. Vigorous exercise appears to lower your risk of diverticulitis.
    • Diet high in animal fat and low in fiber, although the role of low fiber alone isn't clear.
    • Certain medications. Several drugs are associated with an increased risk of diverticulitis, including steroids, opiates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve).

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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