Diverticulitis - Treatment Overview
You may have a brief (acute) bout
diverticulitis that goes away after treatment with antibiotics and a liquid diet. But in some cases the condition occurs off
and on (intermittently) over the long term (chronic). Treatment is the same in
both cases, unless complications occur.
diverticulitis depends on how bad your
symptoms are. If the pain is mild, you are able to drink liquids, and you have no
complications, treatment may include:
- Medicines such as antibiotics and pain
- Changes in diet, starting with a clear-liquid or bland
diet that is low in fiber until the pain goes away, then increasing the amount
If the pain is severe,
you are not able to drink liquids, or you have complications of diverticulitis,
a hospital stay is needed. Treatment will include:
- Antibiotics given in a vein (intravenous,
- Intravenous fluids and nutrition only (no food or
drink by mouth) for up to a week to allow the bowel to
Treatment may also include:
- Keeping the stomach empty by sucking out the contents through
a tube passed up the nose and down the throat into the stomach (nasogastric or
NG tube). This may be needed if you are vomiting or have abdominal
- Doing surgery either for complications of
diverticulitis or if you have had repeated attacks that are not helped by
changing your diet. Overall, fewer than 6 out of 100 people who have diverticulitis
Most cases of promptly treated diverticulitis will
improve in 2 to 3 days. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better.
Treatment after recovery from an
diverticulitis is aimed at preventing another attack.
Treatment may include:
- Gradually increasing the amount of fiber in
the diet through fruits, vegetables, wheat bran, and possibly the regular use
of a fiber supplement.
- Getting plenty of fluids
- Having regular doctor visits to monitor your condition. If
you have diverticulitis, the doctor may see you about 2 days after treatment
begins to make sure you are improving. A
barium enema X-ray probably will be done about 6 weeks
later, after symptoms are under control, to look for any other problems, such
inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
complications of diverticulitis, such as an abscess,
perforation, or bowel obstruction, can occur.
Surgery to remove the affected part of the intestine usually is needed to treat
Nonurgent (elective) surgery also may be done
for diverticulitis if you have had two or more severe attacks, are younger than age 40, or have an impaired immune system.