What is Diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis may cause abdominal pain.
Doctors recommend several daily portions of vegetables and other high-fiber foods to maintain good digestive health.
A diagram showing diverticulosis and other colon problems.
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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Diverticulosis is a condition in which the colon suffers from the presence of diverticula, small, bulging sacs of tissue that press outward from the colon wall. Diverticula tend to form as a person ages and pressure built up in the colon causes the bulging of tissue. A person with diverticulosis may have few symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Diverticulosis alone is merely the presence of the bulging tissue sacs in the colon. However, someone with diverticulosis is said to have diverticular disease. Often confused with diverticulitis, diverticulosis can be present in the body with no complications.

Diverticulitis is an infection of the sacs, which may rupture, and typically carries symptoms including fever, abdominal pain, and swelling. In rare cases, there may be bleeding, which requires medical attention and occasionally surgery. Though extremely rare, if an infected diverticulum ruptures into the abdominal cavity, it can be life threatening.

Discovery of diverticulosis may occur during a routine colonoscopy, or the condition may be investigated if symptoms present themselves. Barium x-rays and abdominal ultrasounds can also detect the presence of diverticula. Changes in bowel habits, including constipation or diarrhea along with abdominal cramping and bloating, can signify diverticulosis. People experiencing persistent symptoms or passing blood or tarry, black stools should call their doctor, as complications like diverticulitis or another disease of the colon may be present. Proper diagnosis is necessary for successful treatment.

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Diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics and in most cases, the infection responds. In cases of severe infection with high fever and pain, excessive bleeding, or a lack of response to antibiotics, surgery may be necessary. In the more frequent occurrence of diverticulosis, a patient can often go without specific treatment. Though the benefits are not proven, a diet high in fiber is often recommended to help regulate bowel function and, if necessary, bloating can be treated with anti-spasmodic drugs.

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PinkLady4
Post 9

@lovealot - No need for your sister to worry too much. Diverticulosis is very common, about one-half of all the people over 60 have these bulging sacs in the lining of their colon. And only a small number of these people get an infection.

One way to avoid getting diverticulitus infection is to control stress in your life. Stress affects many processes in the body.

As far as diet goes, try to eat a high fiber diet. Medical research is trying to figure out which foods to avoid and which to eat and in what combinations. There is information in books and on the internet.

lovealot
Post 8

My sister was diagnosed with diverticulosis during her first colonoscopy. This was a surprise to her; she hadn't had any symptoms. The doctor told her at this point, she only had little sacs protruding out of the outside of the colon.

If the little sacs don't become infected and cause fever and pain, diverticulosis is not a condition to be too concerned about.

How to avoid infection - one way is to eat more fiber like cereal and whole wheat bread, and lots of fruits and vegetables. But she already does this. So she doesn't know what to do to keep from getting an infection.

anon75771
Post 7

I just found out yesterday that I have Diverticulosis yesterday, what a surprise. my Doctor said to eat high fiber diet.

anon47260
Post 6

I had an operation for diverticulosis in 1995. I was all right until now. However, I am worried whether this will turn to cancer in future? Please advise.I have been eating a lot of oatmeal, vegetables and fruits.

nitepoolbob
Post 5

I had an operation for diverticulosis and wanted to know if too much zinc could have caused it?

overreactor
Post 1

A healthy diet which contains plenty of vegetable, and lots of fiber will help prevent diverticuli from forming in the first place. Exercise seem to play a big part in it too.

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