What is diverticulosis (or diverticular disease)? It is a digestive disease in which small pouches form and bulge through the thin or weak points in the colon. Typically, this will occur in the area of the colon called the sigmoid colon, located on the abdomen’s left side. However, most individuals with diverticulosis will suffer no or very few symptoms. Nonetheless, when symptoms do happen they include abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
Researchers have yet to confidently discover what causes diverticulitis. Regardless, we do know that bacteria does grow in the formed pouches, and this then may cause an infection and inflammation. Moreover, it is possible for the pressure caused to generate small holes or tears in the wall of the intestine. If the infection spreads to the abdominal cavity, the lining of the abdominal wall may also develop an infection.
Overall, the disease is more common in older individuals. Of those under 40 years of age, only 1 in 10 develops the condition. However, it is estimated that, in the United States, up to 60 percent of those who suffer from diverticular disease are between the ages 60 and 80. Regardless, diverticulosis is uniformly prevalent among both women and men.
While the majority with diverticulosis will not have symptoms, some may experience mild cramps, constipation or bloat. But, the disease can cause some very severe symptoms, including:
- Constant belly pain
- Tenderness to pressure (particularly on the left side of lower abdomen)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Bloating and gas
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Pain when breathing, walking, or making jerky movements
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, inform your doctor, who will perform an examine. Additionally, your doctor may order tests to discover if you have an infection or ensure there are no other problems. Those tests could include blood work, x-rays, or even a CT scan. Of course, the treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Most likely, you doctor will prescribe antibiotics and medication for pain. If things do not improve, surgery may be required. However,
surgery is mostly limited to those who suffer from or are at high risk of repeated attacks, or those who have an abnormal opening form.
What haven’t we covered yet that is important to you? If you would like to talk about the symptoms and treatment of diverticulitis, or need more information, please contact us.