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Diverticular Disease

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Diverticular disease includes two conditions: diverticulosis and diverticulitis.  

Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form anywhere in your digestive tract, however, they are most commonly found in the large intestine. Development of diverticula is not unusual, especially after age 40. When you have diverticula, the condition is known as diverticulosis. You may never even know you have diverticula because they seldom cause any problems, such as diverticulitis.

Symptoms

The symptoms for diverticulosis and diverticulitis are different.

Diverticulosis

Many people with diverticulosis don’t have any symptoms at all, but some people may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding
  • Inflammation
  • Fistulas

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis can have many symptoms including:

  • Pain in the lower part of the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Vomiting
  • A change in bowel habits

Causes and Risk Factors

Doctors are not sure what causes diverticular disease, but a low-fiber diet may be one of the causes. Diets low in fiber lead to constipation, which causes your muscles to strain when you pass stool. Straining may cause diverticula to form in the colon. If stool or bacteria get caught in the pouches, diverticulitis can occur.

Diagnostic Tests

Diverticular disease is diagnosed in different ways. The most common is a CT scan, which will give your doctor a clear picture of the extent and locations of your diverticula.

Other tests include

  • Medical history to find out about your health and symptoms, bowel habits, diet, and any medications you take.
  • Physical exam
  • Blood test to help detect infections.
  • Stool sample that may show bleeding in the digestive tract.
  • Colonoscopy to look for any pouches.

Treatment and Procedures

Treatment for diverticular disease depends on how serious the problem is and whether you are suffering from diverticulosis or diverticulitis.

Diverticulosis

Eating high-fiber foods can help relieve symptoms. Sometimes mild pain medications also help.

Diverticulitis

Often diverticulitis can be treated with antibiotics and a liquid diet to alleviate symptoms. If symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend additional treatments:

  • Surgery to clean the abdomen after infections and remove bleeding pouches and fistulas.
  • Colon resection to remove the affected portion of your colon

Your health is our greatest concern. Please contact the Center for Colon & Rectal Surgery at 407.303.2615for a private consultation today.