Diverticulosis is the presence of abnormal small pouches (diverticula)
on weak areas of the intestinal wall. There are usually no symptoms.
Diverticulitis is the inflammation (swelling, tenderness,
irritation) of these pouches. The diverticula may be present in any
part of the intestine but most occur in the sigmoid colon, the
lowest section of the large intestine before the rectum.
Diverticulosis is common in adults >40, if there is a family
history, or if the person follows a low-fiber diet.
Symptoms may include:
• Abdominal pain and tenderness, especially in the lower
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Bleeding from the rectum
• Fever and chills
WHAT YOUR DOCTOR CAN DO:
• Diagnose the disease by asking about your symptoms and medical
history, performing a physical exam and ordering laboratory tests.
• Perform special X-rays or an endoscopy (use a long, thin, flexible
tube with a light and optics to view and take tissue samples from
Treatment will depend on the severity of the disease and may
• For mild cases, a stool softener and liquid diet.
• For more severe cases, it may be necessary to let the colon rest
and have an intravenous (IV) line to provide fluids and nutrition
for several days to several weeks.
• Prescription medications including antispasmodics,
anti-inflammatory meds, and antibiotics
• Surgery may be recommended if the disease is severe or to treat
• A high-fiber diet is recommended to prevent recurrence. A bulk
laxative, such as Metamucil, may also be ordered.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
• Take the medicines prescribed by your doctor. Let your doctor know
if you are having uncomfortable side effects. Do not stop your
medicines without talking to your doctor first.
• Increase fluids (especially water) in your diet to at least 8
glasses a day
• Increase the bulk in your diet with high fiber foods. This
includes whole grain breads and cereals, beans and peas, and fresh,
raw fruits and vegetables. To prevent abdominal bloating and gas,
increase fiber slowly rather than all at once.
• Avoid laxatives other than what your doctor recommends.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT:
• Most cases are mild and respond to treatment.
• The chance of recurrence is less if a high-fiber diet is followed.
• Possible complications include a tear in the wall of the intestine
(perforation) or development of a fistula (a tube-like passageway).
Either situation may cause severe infection or bleeding.
CALL 1061 OR SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL
ASSISTANCE If symptoms worsen despite treatment or return
after treatment, if new symptoms develop, or if you develop fever or
severe rectal bleeding.