Diverticular Disease

What is Diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is caused by the herniation of the colon mucosa through the muscular layer of the colon. This produces a small saclike swelling in the colon wall (diverticula).

The most common locations for diverticuli are in the sigmoid and distal colon. The exact reason for the herniation is not known. Up to 20% of the general population is affected with diverticulosis. Older individuals tend to have diverticuli more often than younger individuals. Up to 50% of individuals at age 50 will have them.

What are the Symptoms?

The vast majority of people with diverticulosis have no symptoms.  When an infection is present in one of these pockets a person is said to have diverticulitis.  This condition may present with symptoms of abdominal cramping and pain along with a fever, nausea, vomiting, and chills.  Some people may present with bleeding as their only symptom.  You should seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms appear.

What is the treatment?

It is recommended that people with diverticulosis avoid seeds, nuts, and popcorn to prevent the possibility of these objects becoming lodged within diverticula, causing an infection or bleeding.  It is also recommended that these individuals consume a high fiber diet consisting of plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and high-fiber fruits (apples, pears, etc?)

If you should at some period develop diverticulitis and your symptoms are mild you may be placed on an antibiotic.  If your diverticulitis or bleeding is severe, you may need hospitalization.  Surgery may be necessary for those who don?t respond to treatment or  those individuals who suffer from repeated infections as well as recurrent colonic bleeding.