Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis) Symptoms and Diet

Question:

The symptoms of diverticulitis (diverticulosis) can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Angel, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 14

It started off with chronic constipation, and then bloating. My stomach is very big now, and I have stinging pain, stabbing pains, still chronic constipation, and nausea.

Comment from: spellbrook82, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 24

My symptoms of diverticulitis are very bad pain, colon contractions and flatulence.

Comment from: Guest, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 24

I was experiencing pressure and sharp pains in the left side of my abdomen that wouldn't go away after bowel movements, before I was diagnosed with diverticulitis.

Comment from: runner gal, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 19

My symptoms of diverticulitis started in February, I had blood in my stool with severe cramping, and pain under my right rib. As I also have celiac disease, the cramping is also a symptom of eating gluten. I went to the doctor after 2 weeks of blood. I had a mildly high white blood cell count, had a CT scan and colonoscopy, and all tests were fine and dandy. My symptoms however did not dissipate. I progressed to nausea and stomach pain every day, diarrhea (also a symptom of celiac) and lost days, where I would be in the bathroom the morning, exhausted afterwards and have to go to bed for the rest of the day. Mid May (few days ago) I had a very lost Saturday, bloody diarrhea, cramps, pain, etc., but felt better on Sunday, went for a run, etc., went to Mother's Day dinner and during dinner my lower back started to ache as did my groin area almost like menstrual cramps (which I have not had in years). By 9 pm it felt like I was being stabbed in the back with an ice pick (now middle back both sides of the spine), a fever and severe lower abdomen pain plus that ever so fun pain under my rib. As it was a Sunday, I waited to go the doctor until Monday (took Advil and Nuprin). Fever broke sometime early morning. At the doctor's they set me up with antibiotics and I had a CT scan with contrast, which showed quite a number of infections in my large intestine. I have been on a liquid diet and had a scrambled egg tonight (Wednesday) as I was so hungry. Here is the rub, I eat incredibly healthy, salads every day, lots of fiber, no grains, I run every day and am a fitness instructor. I have always loose stools. The medical staff where I go kept trying to tell me that loose stools are a sign of constipation. I had to stop from falling off my stool (bad pun). I do however after a run in with gluten have a lot of diarrhea and the next day things sort of come to a soft stool situation so I guess this is enough. My parents had issues with this as do my 3 sisters, so I think it is hereditary in my world. Sorry for the long diatribe.

Comment from: patrick s, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 01

For me, I was feeling pain like a hernia almost, which steadily became worse and worse until I was having trouble moving around. I went to an urgent care center, and they sent me to the hospital instantly. I also get lower back pain from diverticulitis, I am on my second flare up now. Because I've been working so much, I haven't been eating well. I finished the second course of antibiotics but it is still lingering. I just started taking Metamucil daily, which I've heard helps a lot.

Comment from: GladHawkk, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 22

I have had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) since I was 35 and I am now 60. I was told that I have a diverticula 5 years ago after a colonoscopy. The doctor told me to eat more fiber, which really didn't help much at all. I tried so many things to try and improve my health. Four weeks ago I contracted a bug/virus and been to 4 doctors to only hear that I have a bug and IBS is bad, and they did absolutely nothing for me at all. I am sure it was diverticulitis and possibly an infection because of the bug I had. I have changed my diet in a big way, taking vitamin D3, probiotics (gluten free, lactose free), drinking lots of good water (not tap), started drinking Chaga tea, and will soon start on Essiac tea. Just hoping this does the trick. I am also losing weight (wasn't by choice), haven't had an appetite having nausea and bloating. Colonoscopy to happen in mid-June. All my bloodwork was fine, I had x-rays, they won't do a CT scan unless I'm dying and in agony because I had a reaction to the dye when I last had a CT scan. So after everything is ruled out, going mostly natural medicines, organic as much as possible, less stress and filling my life with music and calm, prayer and meditation and positive attitude as much as I can, but staying real and working on healing emotions. Life is too short to be to living in fear and pain. I am trying to listen to my body and spirit more.

Comment from: jude, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 05

I get really cold with severe shaking when I get pain in the left side. I have been hospitalized 2 times with diverticulitis.

Comment from: Joan w., 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: April 07

I had my 1st attack of diverticulitis 6 months ago which hospitalized me for one week. I lost a lot of blood ending up with anemia. It has taken almost 6 months to recover gaining the weight I lost. Now I am experiencing slight pain in left side plus my 2nd urinary tract infection. The first one was treated with antibiotic which worked for a few weeks, but now it is back, with a slight discharge. I am so worried that I am on the verge of another attack, I don't know what to do to prevent this. I am 77 years old.

Comment from: stacyb, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 07

My pain began as cramping in my lower abdomen and the pain radiated down into my legs. It felt like menstrual cramps although I haven't had a period in many years. After a few hours, the pain subsided and I slept well that night. The next morning it started again. I took 3 ibuprofen and I didn't start feeling the cramps again until hours later. That afternoon I took 3 ibuprofen but it didn't touch the pain. It continued to get worse into evening. I went to bed early and slept well. When I lay down it felt better. When I awoke on the third morning with the symptoms worsening I knew it was time to see the doctor. I went to the emergency room and they did a CT scan and determined that it was diverticulitis. They put me on two antibiotics for 10 days, clear liquids until the pain went away, low fiber foods for a few days, and then instructed me to eat a high fiber diet with plenty of water. Seedy and nutty foods, including popcorn and corn, are likely to cause a flare up but the research says there's nothing to prove this. So for now I try and stick to the high fiber diet but occasionally eat foods with seeds but very sparingly.

Comment from: Tobe, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 20

In my experience with diverticulitis which have right now, I have very sharp pains in my groin and lower stomach, like a knife. I am on Advil, Tylenol and Buscopan for pain. I am on Flagyl and ciprofloxacin antibiotics. I have never felt this much severe pain ever before! I cannot pass gas or have a bowel movement which I would really would love to have right now. I am not allowed to eat for a couple of days, just clear liquids. I am trying to stay home right now though this but if I get worse I am going to be admitted in hospital. Last year I did not feel a thing but hugely bloated, just felt very full pressure. I went to the doctor and had blood test done and my white blood cells count was at 14.5. I was rushed to the hospital and spent 5 days in there on IV antibiotics.

Comment from: mary, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 22

My symptoms of diverticulitis are abdominal pain, back pain and gas.

Comment from: minni, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I started getting burning pain in chest and lower left side and it went on for 6 days. I went to the emergency room because I feared a heart attack. I had blood work, EKG, ultra sound of the heart, and chest x-rays, and all came back clear. I have diverticulitis problem and thinking this is what it is. I also have pinched nerve in the neck and sometimes food feels like stuck in throat.

Comment from: zboz78, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: December 18

I am a male in my 40s. About 5 years ago, I started to have a burning sensation in my lower left abdomen. Sometimes it radiates to my back, or legs, but it is mainly in the lower left abdomen. It is at its worst when I am sitting or lying down. Eating always makes it worse, no matter what food it is. I have tried all kinds of diets, including cutting seeds out of my life, and eating lots of fiber. I have been to at least 20 doctors, including gastroenterologists, urologists, radiologists, neurologists, and surgeons. I have had every possible testing done, some of them multiple times, including CT scans (with and without contrast), MRI, x-ray, ultrasound, and even a PET scan, which is usually only done for cancer screening. My blood work has never shown anything abnormal. I have had multiple colonoscopies and upper endoscopies done. Doctors have told me it was things like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diverticulitis, ulcers, and many more things, but all have been proven to be false. I have taken several rounds of Cipro and Flagyl for the diverticulitis, and my last colonoscopy showed that even the pouches vanished, which is impossible, so I either never had them or they are still there. Recently, a doctor told me it was some type of hernia, so I had a laparoscopy done, but that showed no signs for hernias, only some twisting of the large intestine, which my surgeon said he fixed. Five days later, I ended up in the emergency room because my heart was beating too fast once I realized all my symptoms were back after the surgery. Afterwards, a doctor told me it might be cancer, which was proven false with the PET scan. Then, I went to a psychiatrist and she diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, which I think is a result from having so many scares over the years and always being on the edge of my seat while waiting for results, so I am taking many medications for that. The burning went away for a month or so, but now it is back and I do not know how to deal with it and the depression at the same time.

Comment from: Madlyn, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 27

I am 70 years old and usually very active. One night I began to experience pain in the lower abdomen. It was not a sharp or stabbing pain, but felt more like my intestines were twisting and blocked. As morning approached the pain traveled to the left side. The twisting pain was excruciating. I was doubling over and could not stand. I called my daughter and we went to the hospital. After an exam and x-ray of the lower colon, they decided I had diverticulitis. Hydrocodone 7.5-325 was prescribed for the pain. I was given Cipro and Flagyl to continue taking at home. After about 5 days, the pain disappeared. I have never felt such pain before.

Comment from: Frank S., 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: April 16

My symptoms of diverticulitis were abdominal and lower bowel pain that kept getting worse, and constipation. After a few days I was only getting small bloody stools and the pain increased in my abdomen and lower stomach. I also developed severe dizziness. The day they took me to the hospital I could not even stand up. It turns out that my colon had abscessed and was leaking into my peritoneal area and I was septic. I should have gotten to the hospital sooner.

Comment from: Summer, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

I was told after having a routine test to clean out the intestine that I have diverticulosis. Today I had a lot of pain in my lower left side, vomiting, constipation and fever. I did not see any blood on the paper after wiping. I usually am constipated due to taking medications for rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. When I had my exam I had no polyps but did have pockets and the stuff I had to drink did not clear me out.

Published: August 27

I had an all over abdominal discomfort, but not actual pain. Frankly, I thought I had a bad case of gas. But the things I normally do to relieve gas (obviously) didn't help. I could not isolate the pain to one area. I was just bloated. I took some Alka seltzer and had a small amount of relief - not enough that the discomfort went away totally, just enough to fool me into thinking I was right about the gas. And then the rupture. The pain became VERY localized - it was like someone was stabbing me in one spot (lower left) with a very hot knife. It was excruciating! Worst pain EVER - made delivering my son naturally seem like a stubbed toe. And because I was young - only 36 - they went "exploring" my abdomen. I had NO history of any trouble at all. I lost nearly 3 inches of my sigmoid and had a colostomy due to the peritonitis. Fortunately for me, 6 weeks later I was able to be "put back together." I haven't had any recurring problems, but I am pretty good about taking fiber twice a day and trying not to strain to go to the bathroom. I also avoid white breads and try to get plenty of whole grains. It's been 8 years (wow - that is so hard to believe!) and I am fine.

Comment from: Donna, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 22

I was diagnosed with diverticulitis last year. I had a couple of flare ups and I take antibiotics which are so awful they make me worse. But every day I have pain even if I go to toilet or not. I have to take tramadol on a daily basis.

Comment from: Victoria, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 17

I have a flare up of diverticulitis every two years. Not sure what causes it, I am never constipated. I usually get an infection when I eat lots of salads and nuts. I get an infection in a pocket. I hurt on my left side. I am now passing slimy light green stuff. I have not been to the doctor yet. I guess I need an antibiotic.

Comment from: feelingbetter, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 12

My symptoms started with mild discomfort below my navel. Over a period of several hours the discomfort became increasingly worse with severe cramping (every two minutes or so) just above my navel, combined with a bloated feeling and extreme sensitivity all around my stomach. This was followed by nausea, hot/cold spells, a rise in my pulse (up to 122 bpm) and a rise in blood pressure. It was a truly miserable experience. I was treated with Dicyclomine 10mg capsules (for cramping) and Metronidazole 500 mg tablets (antibiotic). The combination of both medications have thus far worked well in the 4 days since onset. The medication made the cramping, nausea and bloating dissipate over a period of 24 hours although I felt weak and shaky through day three. Today (day 4) I'm feeling fairly well. Right now I'm conscious of every little gurgle and twinge in my stomach, so I may actually be feeling better than I think.

Published: August 27

I had a dull pain in my lower left abdomen for a couple of days, then I started to get chills (hot then cold). I began to run a fever. This lasted a couple of hours, then it was over. The next day when I went to see the doctor, most of the prior nights symptoms where gone except the pain in my lower left abdomen. After consult my family doctor, I had an MRI done and it was confirmed that I had Diverticulosis with a perforation.

Comment from: Mags, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: June 09

I had my sigmoid colon removed 10 years ago and was told I had multiple diverticula. Now I am having the same symptoms but my pain is higher up in my stomach.

Comment from: lorry, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: June 25

With an abscess on colon, I was in hospital for 3 days under heavy antibiotics. My stomach is still swollen and I am worried. My back aches.

Comment from: teresa, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

I had a cramp under rib cage on my left side for about a week. It felt sort of like a pulled muscle. I went to the hospital room where they ran blood tests. My white blood count was over 17000. They admitted me right away. I was given morphine and antibiotics for a week. I spent an entire week in hospital with something I had never heard about. It was scary and I still have a flare-up now and then, but nowhere as bad as the first time.

Comment from: Corey, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: December 13

I'm 25 and just one day I woke up feeling pain right above my waist. I thought I had to pass gas really bad but could not. I bought some Gas-X and it did not do anything I thought maybe it was really bad bloating. I gave it a couple of days but by the second day the pain was like needles going into my lower abdomen. I really didn't want to go to the hospital as I have no medical insurance but I forced myself. That did CT scans, ran blood tests, and unfortunately had to do a rectal exam and a few hours later diagnosed me with diverticulitis saying it was abnormal for my age.

Comment from: Harleyyorkie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 31

I had symptoms about two years ago. I had bloating, gas, several bouts of cramping diarrhea. I took over the counter medications and just passed it off as "oh, getting older (early 50's) can't eat that anymore." I had one episode about a year earlier that woke me out of a sound sleep with cramping, pain in the lower abdomen, sweating, rapid pulse, and chills. I really thought I was having a heart attack. Once again I passed it off as "something I ate." Come to find out that was a small tear in the colon, but we didn't find that out until 6 months later when I was at work and was overcome by this searing sharp, burning pain all across my lower abdomen.

Comment from: too young but got it, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: August 09

I am 24 and was diagnosed at 21. I had horrible pain in my left bottom side of my lower abdomen. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, I went from one doctor to the next for about a month. All the signs pointed to diverticulitis but it wasn't a possibility because of my age. I lost around 25 pounds or so because I couldn't eat or drink. Finally after the barium enema the doctors concluded it had to be diverticulitis.

Comment from: Bjw, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 06

Severe stomach cramps are my worst symptom as a result of diverticulitis.

Comment from: Female (Patient) Published: February 18

Hi I was 45 and at first I got a mild pain in the lower left abdomen, which became sharper and more frequent; it just wasn't going away. I also had very fast and runny stools. Then just a general unwell feeling, I felt tired and spaced out. At doctors they thought ectopic pregnancy, so I went to accident and emergency where it was diagnosed after physical and a scan. The doctors didn't really believe it was my first episode as it was acute with perforation/abscess. Luckily with three days of intravenous antibiotics, I was able to avoid surgery. Three years on I have not had another episode. I try to eat enough fiber and drink more water and stay clear of seeds, spicy food and I have reduced my alcohol intake.

Comment from: mw, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 06

My pain started with a tender spot under my rib on the left side. On the fourth day the pain became unbearable like I was being stabbed with a knife. That took me to the emergency room and the diagnosis with a CT scan and lab tests.

Comment from: DianaC, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 22

I just woke up with pain on the left side of the front of my body. Over the next 4 days it extended down into an L shape toward the center. A CT scan confirmed diverticulitis and I spent the next 3 weeks on antibiotics, but wasn't getting significantly better. When my Dr. sent me for another CT scan I was hospitalized, put on IV antibiotics for 5 days, and had 24" of my large intestine removed. The surgeon said I had an abscess, too. 6 weeks after surgery, I got diverticulitis AGAIN, and about a month after it cleared, once more, for which I'm in my 3rd week of antibiotics.

Comment from: musicman64, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 23

At age 63 I had for months been feeling bloated and tried Gas-Ex, etc. to no avail. Then I developed a tender spot below and to the right side of my navel and the doctor thought appendicitis. CT scan showed two inflamed areas in my colon. Clear liquid diet and IV antibiotics for 4 days in the hospital cleared it up. Colonoscopy showed pan-diverticulosis (i.e., in every section of my colon). I'm now on a high fibre diet permanently and haven't had another bout of this "complicated diverticulitis" (pus pockets)in 18 months.

Comment from: fiesty61, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

I had abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, cramping, nausea and lower back pain. No one seemed to be able to find a reason for the symptoms, but a recent colonoscopy revealed that I have diverticulosis.

Comment from: lu, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 11

I am an Asian and have always been on a high fiber diet the past 50 years. I moved to the USA for permanent stay. It had only been 3 years of low fiber, typical American food. But 10 days ago, after doing aqua aerobics, I noticed some blood stain in the toilet tissue. The following morning, it was all bloody bowel movement. My husband drove me to the hospital right away. Then the doctors asked for the common signs and symptoms like any pains, bloating, vomiting, fever,.. But I have none of those. I was very strong. I had 17 trips to the ER bathroom with frank red blood eliminations. So they made me go for X-rays, a CT scan and then the colonoscopy. Diagnosis: A lot of diverticuli everywhere in my colon. The doctor who did the colonoscopy said that if I get into such a crisis again, I should just go ahead and have that colon cut out! OH NO! That day was my 57th birthday!

Comment from: clara Rose, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 25

This year alone, I have had several flares with diverticulitis. I was lifting weights more often, and I'm starting to think this might have had an effect on my condition. This most recent one lasted 10 days, and now I am taking a medication called Flagyl.

Comment from: catherine, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 06

After taking Bactrim for a urinary tract infection, which then resulted in severe diarrhea, I began today having sudden severe jabs of pain in my lower right side, occurring quite often. My physcian then prescribed tetracycline, which I have just gotten and will take three hours after having eaten dinner. The pains are very sharp.

Comment from: NavyVet, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 18

After about 6 months of feeling bloated but with no other symptom, I developed a sore area below and to the right of my navel. This continued and grew slightly worse for several days until I saw a doctor. The initial diagnosis was appendicitis or diverticulitis. CAT scan verified the latter with two points of abscess. Six days of IV antibiotics and liquid diet cleared it. This was 13 months ago. There never was any real pain, just soreness and discomfort.

Patient Comments & Reviews

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REFERENCES:

Bogardus ST. What do we know about diverticular disease? A brief overview. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2006;40:S108–S111

Pemberton, J.H., MD. "Acute colonic diverticulitis: Medical management." UpToDate. Updated: Jul 18, 2017.
<http://www.uptodate.com/contents/acute-colonic-diverticulitis-medical-management>

Pemberton, J.H., MD. "Patient information: Diverticular disease (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate. Aug 2017.
<http://www.uptodate.com/contents/diverticular-disease-beyond-the-basics>

Shahedi, K. MD. "Diverticulitis." Medscape. Aug 15, 2017.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/173388-overview>

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