Diverticulitis - Topic Overview
Diverticulosis happens when pouches (diverticula ) form in the wall of the colon . If these pouches get inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can be very painful.
Doctors aren't sure
what causes diverticula in the colon (diverticulosis). But they think that a low-fiber diet may play a
role. Without fiber to add bulk to the stool, the colon has to work harder than
normal to push the stool forward. The pressure from this may cause pouches to
form in weak spots along the colon.
Diverticulitis happens when
feces get trapped in the pouches (diverticula). This allows bacteria to grow in the pouches. This can lead to inflammation or
Symptoms of diverticulitis
may last from a few hours to a week or more. Symptoms include:
Your doctor will
ask about your symptoms and will examine you. He or she may do tests to see if
you have an infection or to make sure that you don't have other problems. Tests
The treatment you need depends
on how bad your symptoms are. You may need to
have only liquids at first, and then return to solid food when you start
feeling better. Your doctor will give you medicines for pain and antibiotics. Take the antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just
because you feel better.
For mild cramps and belly pain:
- Use a heating pad, set on low, on your belly.
- Relax. For example, try meditation or slow, deep breathing in a
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, for
You may need surgery only if diverticulitis doesn't get
better with other treatment, or if you have problems such as long-lasting
(chronic) pain, a bowel obstruction, a
fistula, or a pocket of infection (abscess).
You may be
able to prevent diverticulitis if you drink plenty of water, get regular
exercise, and eat a high-fiber diet. A high-fiber diet includes whole grains,
fresh fruits, and vegetables.