Diverticulitis occurs when pouches protrude from the wall of the colon, causing inflammation to occur. Common treatments for diverticulitis include antibiotics, a clear liquid diet, other dietary changes, and surgery.

a person is pouring themselves a glass of waterShare on Pinterest
draganab/Getty Images

Diverticulosis is a condition that occurs when pouches, or sacs, form in the colon and push outward. The term for these pouches is diverticula.

If these pouches protrude outward from the colon wall and inflammation or infection occurs, a person has diverticulitis.

There are a number of treatments for diverticulitis. Treatment often depends on the severity of the condition.

Around 95 in 100 people with uncomplicated diverticulitis do not require treatment. The condition should go away on its own within 1 week.

If a person does not have symptoms of severe diverticulitis, they may receive treatment on an outpatient basis.

The reported success rate of outpatient management of mild diverticulitis is around 94–97%.

Outpatient treatment usually involves bowel rest and increased fluid intake alongside other treatments.

Below are some possible treatments for mild diverticulitis.

High-fiber foods and fiber supplements

If a person has diverticulitis, their doctor may recommend that they eat a high-fiber diet. They may also suggest taking fiber supplements.

Research suggests that a diet low in fiber may increase a person’s risk of developing diverticulitis. This means that eating a diet that is high in fiber may lower their risk.

One 2017 scientific review analyzed 19 studies into the use of fiber and fiber supplements for treating symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease (SUDD). The study concluded that both dietary and supplemental fiber could be beneficial in treating SUDD.

However, it added that the quality of the studies it analyzed was low, and more high-quality studies were necessary to determine whether dietary and supplemental fiber are effective treatments.


In some cases, a person with diverticulitis may require antibiotic treatment.

The most common antibiotic regimen that doctors in the United States use consists of quinolones (ciprofloxacin) or sulfa drugs (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole) in combination with metronidazole.

If the person cannot tolerate metronidazole, a doctor may recommend clindamycin as an alternative.

Antibiotic treatment for mild diverticulitis usually lasts 7–10 days.

Clear liquid diet

A doctor may recommend that a person has a clear liquid diet for a short time. This is to allow the colon to rest.

The doctor may then suggest that the person slowly adds solid foods to their diet as their diverticulitis symptoms improve.

Below are some treatment options for severe diverticulitis.

Intravenous antibiotics

If a person requires inpatient treatment for diverticulitis, they may need intravenous (IV) antibiotics.

Usually, a person will have IV antibiotics for 3–5 days. Once this course is complete, they will usually switch to oral antibiotics for 10–14 days.

Treatments for diverticular bleeding

In some cases, a person with diverticulitis may experience bleeding. This can cause them to bleed from their rectum.

In some cases, this bleeding may stop on its own. Other times, a person may require treatment.

A doctor can find and stop diverticular bleeding using a colonoscopy or an angiogram.

For a colonoscopy, a doctor will insert a special colonoscope or scope to look inside the rectum and colon. They can then find the source of the bleeding and insert special tools through the colonoscope to stop the bleeding.

An angiogram is a type of X-ray that uses dye to help detect blood vessels. A radiologist can inject certain medicines or other materials into specific blood vessels to stop diverticular bleeding.

Treating diverticular abscesses

Around 15 in 100 people with diverticulitis develop abscesses. These are pus-filled lumps or masses present in the tissue of the colon.

The signs of an abscess are a fever that does not subside despite treatment with IV antibiotics and a tender abdomen.

A doctor can treat smaller diverticular abscesses with IV antibiotics. They may drain the pus from large abscesses.


If a person has diverticulitis that does not respond to medical management, they may require surgery.

The most common type of surgery for diverticulitis is a sigmoid resection. The sigmoid colon is a part of the colon that sits just before the rectum.

A surgeon removes this part of the colon and some of the rectal area.

Generally, this procedure is minimally invasive. A surgeon can often perform it by inserting instruments through small cuts in the abdominal wall. This is known as a laparoscopy.

Sometimes, a surgeon may perform this surgery through a bigger cut. This is known as open surgery.

Learn more about surgery for diverticulitis here.

If a person has diverticulosis or diverticulitis, a doctor may recommend that they eat more foods that are high in fiber.

Foods that are high in fiber include:

  • Grains: These are often a good source of fiber. High-fiber grains include:
    • bulgur wheat
    • whole wheat crackers
    • whole wheat tortillas
    • high-fiber cereals
  • Fruits: Fruits that contain fiber include:
    • raspberries
    • apples
    • prunes
    • dried plums
    • Asian pears
  • Vegetables: These are a good source of fiber. Vegetables that contain fiber include:
    • green peas
    • lentils
    • pinto beans
    • sweet potato
    • chickpeas
    • kidney beans
    • broccoli
    • collard greens

Learn more about dietary fiber here.

Here are some common questions that people ask about diverticulitis.

How long does it take for diverticulitis to heal?

If a person has uncomplicated diverticulitis, it will usually go away on its own within 1 week.

Outpatient management of mild diverticulitis has a reported success rate of around 94–97%.

Antibiotic treatment for mild diverticulitis usually takes 7–10 days.

If a person requires IV antibiotic treatment, this may last 3–5 days. Once this course is complete, they will switch to oral antibiotics for 10–14 days.

What triggers diverticulitis?

Medical professionals are not sure what causes diverticulitis.

Experts believe a mix of genes and lifestyle factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing diverticulitis. Lifestyle factors can include smoking and obesity.

Other possible factors that increase a person’s risk of diverticulitis include:

  • bacteria or stool getting caught in a pouch in the colon
  • changes in the microbiome of the intestines
  • problems with the connective tissue, muscles, or nerves in the colon
  • problems with the immune system

Common treatments for mild diverticulitis include adding fiber to the diet, antibiotics, and a clear liquid diet.

Treatments for more severe diverticulitis include IV antibiotics and surgery.

In some cases, a doctor may also treat the abscesses that can form or diverticular bleeding.