Medications for diverticulitis include antibiotics, acetaminophen, antispasmodics, and tricyclic antidepressants. Some over-the-counter medications may worsen the condition, so it is important to contact a doctor for a treatment plan.

Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches in the colon become inflamed. The small pouches, called diverticula, push outward through weak spots in the wall of the colon.

Various medications may help a person manage symptoms of diverticulitis. Dietary changes and other treatments may also help.

Read on to learn more about medications that may help treat diverticulitis. This article also looks at other treatment options.

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Medications a doctor may prescribe for diverticulitis include:

  • antibiotics
  • acetaminophen
  • tricyclic antidepressants


The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) advises that doctors typically recommend antibiotics and either a liquid or light diet to treat diverticulitis.

According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), doctors may use a combination of oral fluoroquinolone and metronidazole antibiotics to treat mild cases in the outpatient setting.

Alternatively, they may use monotherapy with oral amoxicillin/clavulanate potassium.

The duration of treatment is typically 4 to 7 days, but can be longer.

Antibiotics may not be necessary for every case of diverticulitis. A 2019 review suggests that antibiotics have no proven benefit in reducing the duration of uncomplicated diverticulitis or preventing recurrence.

A person’s doctor can advise on whether they recommend antibiotic treatment based on the individual’s circumstances.

Acetaminophen and antispasmodics

Doctors may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or antispasmodic such as dicyclomine (Bentyl) and hyoscyamine (NuLev) for pain relief.

These may be more suitable than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. NSAIDS may lead to diverticulitis complications. However, there may be exceptions for people with cardiovascular disease.

Tricyclic antidepressants

The AGA advises that ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms are common after an episode of acute diverticulitis. A doctor may prescribe a low to modest dose of a tricyclic antidepressant after a full assessment.

Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include:

  • amitriptyline
  • imipramine
  • desipramine
  • nortriptyline
  • doxepin

Doctors may recommend that someone with diverticulitis makes dietary or lifestyle changes. People who have complications of diverticulitis may require treatment in a hospital.

Dietary modifications

A doctor may recommend a clear liquid diet to make a person more comfortable in the acute phase of uncomplicated diverticulitis.

Including fiber and reducing the amount of red meat in the diet may help decrease the risk of developing diverticulitis.

Some people believe that a low residue diet, which limits high fiber foods, can actually help with symptoms of diverticulitis. However, the ACG advises that a large study found people who frequently ate nuts or popcorn were no more likely to experience diverticulitis than those who did not eat these foods. Therefore, the ACG no longer recommends that people with diverticulitis avoid these foods.

Similarly, the AGA notes that there is no association between consuming fruits with small seeds, such as strawberries, and diverticulitis risk.

Learn more about the best foods for diverticulitis.

Lifestyle modifications

People who maintain a moderate weight and get enough regular physical activity or exercise are less likely to develop diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding.

Additionally, avoiding smoking helps to prevent diverticulitis, especially the type with perforations.

Learn about home remedies for diverticulitis.


Doctors may recommend X-ray guided drainage for someone with a large abscess. This procedure involves a doctor placing a tube into the abdomen to drain the abscess.

In rare cases, a person may need surgery to remove a part of the colon that is bleeding.

Learn more about diverticulitis treatments.

Here are some frequently asked questions about diverticulitis.

What is the best medication for diverticulitis pain?

Acetaminophen and antispasmodics may be suitable for diverticulitis pain. However, it is best to contact a doctor for advice before taking pain relief medication. Some types, such as NSAIDs, are not suitable for people with diverticulitis.

What can trigger diverticulitis?

What can trigger diverticulitis is unclear, but people who eat a low fiber diet may be more at risk of developing the condition. Obesity, smoking, and NSAIDs may also increase the risk of diverticulitis.

What are the early signs of diverticulitis?

Abdominal pain that comes on suddenly may be a sign of diverticulitis. A person may also experience changes in bowel movements, nausea, or vomiting.

Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat diverticulitis. They may also recommend acetaminophen, antispasmodics, or tricyclic antidepressants to manage ongoing abdominal pain.

Experts do not advise people to take NSAIDs for diverticulitis as they may cause further complications. However, doctors may recommend people with cardiovascular disease differently. A person should always follow a doctor’s advice.

Someone with symptoms of diverticulitis should contact a doctor for an assessment and to discuss treatment options.