Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are digestive tract conditions with a common feature of diverticula, which is the term for small pouches in the intestine’s lining.
Diverticula can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, though they are most common in the sigmoid colon (the part of the colon that is closest to the rectum).
Many people with diverticula in their colon may not experience symptoms. Diverticular disease occurs when diverticula
- chronic symptoms
- diverticulitis complications
Read on to learn more about diverticulosis and diverticulitis, including their symptoms, treatments, and more.
Diverticulosis is a clinical condition where multiple diverticula develop along the gastrointestinal tract. These sac-like protrusions typically form at weak points in the walls of the small or large intestines, though most
- roughly 1 in 10 people over 40 years old
- half of those over 60 years old
- two-thirds of people over 80 years old
Diverticulitis occurs when one or more diverticulum pouches become inflamed.
Researchers are still investigating what causes diverticulum inflammation. However,
The majority of individuals with diverticulosis
Symptoms associated with diverticulosis
Symptoms of diverticulitis depend on the severity of the condition. The most common symptoms of diverticulitis include:
People often report pain in the lower left side of the abdomen. The pain may feel constant and sharp and may radiate to the leg, back, groin, and side. Some may also experience urinary symptoms, such as an increased need to urinate.
Those with complications may present with long-term symptoms, such as:
Doctors may be able to diagnose diverticulosis based on the presence of symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis, they can use imaging tests, such as an X-ray with a barium enema or a colonoscopy. Typically, a colonoscopy is the
An abdominal ultrasound can also diagnose acute diverticulitis. However, this highly depends on the operator’s skill.
Most bleeding associated with diverticulosis resolves by itself. Experts suggest 75% of bleeding episodes stop spontaneously and do not require treatment. However, a doctor may recommend a person increases the fiber and fluid in their diet to help
A person may need further intervention in cases of persistent bleeding or if they have a giant diverticulum at risk of infection and rupture. A doctor may recommend
- coagulation (cautery, argon plasma coagulator)
- mechanical devices (loops, clips, bands)
It is important to promptly treat diverticulitis because of the risk of developing complications, including:
- an abscess
- perforation of the colon
- fistula formation
Standard outpatient treatment for diverticulitis
- bowel rest
- increased fluid intake
- single or multiple antibiotic treatments
Managing diverticulitis and its associated symptoms is the best prevention. Eating a high fiber diet with 20–35 grams (g) of fiber daily can help prevent it. Drinking at least eight glasses of water is also essential to make stool softer and easier to pass.
Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are related conditions that affect the large intestine. They both involve the presence of pouches called diverticula. While diverticulosis is often asymptomatic, infection of these pouches may lead to diverticulitis and other complications.
A high fiber diet and drinking plenty of fluids can help reduce the risk of diverticulitis and its associated symptoms. Treatment for acute diverticulitis may include antibiotics and bowel rest.