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Diverticulitis - When To Call a Doctor

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if the person has been bleeding from the anus and has signs of shock, which could mean that a diverticular pouch is bleeding (diverticular bleeding). Signs of shock include passing out, or feeling very dizzy, weak, or less alert.

Call your doctor immediately if you have pain in the abdomen that is in one spot (as opposed to general pain in the abdomen), especially if you also have:

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  • Fever or chills.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Unusual changes in your bowel movements or abdominal swelling.
  • Blood in your stool.
  • Pain that is worse when you move.
  • Burning pain when you urinate.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.

Call your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen that is getting worse.
  • Pain in the abdomen that becomes worse when you move or cough.
  • A stool that is mostly blood (more than a few streaks of blood on the stool). Blood in the stool may appear as reddish or maroon-colored liquid or clots or may produce a black stool that looks like tar.
  • Passed gas or stool from your urethra while urinating. This likely means that you have an opening (fistula) between the bowel and the urinary tract.

Call your doctor if you:

  • Have cramping pain that does not get better when you have a bowel movement or pass gas.
  • Have rectal bleeding, a change in bowel habits, and you have been losing weight without trying.

Call your doctor if you are treating mild diverticulitis at home and:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your pain is getting worse.
  • You can't keep down liquids.
  • You are not better after 3 days.

Watchful waiting

It is not uncommon to have bloating, gas pressure, or mild abdominal (belly) pain. These can be caused by eating certain foods or by stress. Home treatment usually will take care of these symptoms. If home treatment does not help or if the symptoms become worse, see your doctor.

Who to see

Health professionals who can diagnose and prescribe treatment for diverticulitis include:

If further tests are needed, if your symptoms do not respond to treatment, or if you may need surgery, your doctor may refer you to a:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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