Diverticular disease affects the colon (the large intestine that removes waste from your body) and is made up of two conditions: diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticulosis occurs when pouches, called diverticula, form in the colon. These diverticula bulge out like weak spots in a tire. Diverticulitis occurs when one or more diverticula become inflamed or infected.
Symptoms of diverticulitis anddiverticulosis include:
- Asymptomatic (no symptoms)
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Abdominal tenderness
Risk factors for developing diverticulosis/diverticulitis include:
- Age: beginning at age 40 the chance of getting diverticular disease increases every 10 years
- Diet low in fiber
When to See a Doctor
For many people, diverticula seldom cause problems. However, if diverticulitis does develop, the condition can cause significant pain and severe cases may require surgery. If you have concerns about your symptoms or if they persist or seem severe, it’s time to see a doctor.
Treatment options for individuals with diverticulosis/diverticulitis vary and may include the following:
- Follow a special diet, high in fiber
- Pain medications
The foremost diagnostic “test” for any condition is a thorough exam and consultation with a physician, including a review of your individual and family history. In addition, your physician may recommend any of the following tests or procedures, which may provide further diagnostic value:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests (which may include one or more of the following: ultrasound, x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan)
- Stool tests
It may not be possible to prevent diverticular disease but maintaining a diet high in fiber (especially grain fiber) may help.
Learn more about diverticulosis/diverticulitis with resources from the National Institutes of Health