Diverticulosis occurs when pockets, referred to as diverticula, form in the wall of the colon. Approximately 50% of all people older than the age of 50 have diverticulosis. Diverticulitis occurs when these pockets become infected or swollen. The symptoms of diverticulitis often come on quickly and can be painful. Approximately 5% of people with diverticulosis will develop diverticulitis at some time in their life.
The symptoms of diverticulitis include lower abdominal pain, often on the left side, fever, a change in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, cramping, chills, and nausea and vomiting.
If you have these symptoms you must get tested. Diverticulitis often can be found during a routine examination by your doctor, but your doctor may also order other tests such as a CT scan of the abdomen, a stool sample, a digital rectal exam, blood tests, or colonoscopy.
Treatment for uncomplicated diverticulitis is antibiotics, rest, and a low fiber diet. Treatment usually lasts ten days to two weeks. Patients with more serious or complicated diverticulitis may require admission to the hospital for treatment with intravenous antibiotics, drainage of the abscess, or even surgery.
To help prevent diverticulitis from recurring, one should eat a diet that is high in fiber after the diverticulitis is resolved, lose weight if one is overweight and to work out regularly.
By Dr. Louis Saco MD, FACP, MBA
Address: Watson Clinic Main, 1600 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland, FL 33805