Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis is a very common condition in which a small pouch or diverticulum is present within the wall of the colon. These pouches typically develop at a weak area of the colon. Most patients with this condition are asymptomatic, but can experience symptoms such as cramping, bloating and constipation. The exact cause is unclear though insufficient fiber intake may play a role in its development. Genetic factors also are important.

When a diverticulum becomes inflamed or infected the condition is called diverticulitis. Symptoms of diverticulitis include: abdominal pain, fever/chills, constipation, nausea and vomiting.

The treatment of diverticulosis includes maintaining a high fiber diet and avoiding constipation. A common recommendation is between 20 and 35 grams of fiber per day that will improve intestinal pressure and allow bowels to move easily. Fiber supplements such as Metamucil and Citrucel may be recommended.

The treatment of diverticulitis will include an antibiotic regimen and change in diet which will allow the infected area to heal. Patients are often placed on a liquid diet and then the diet is advanced slowly over several days. Severe cases of diverticulitis may require hospitalization for management of complications such as an abscess or perforation. Some patients ultimately require surgery for management of their disease.

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