What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is a form of diverticular disease, which occurs when small pouches in the large intestinal (colonic) wall called diverticula arise and push through weak spots in the colon’s outer muscle layers. Diverticular disease that is not inflamed is called diverticulosis. Inflammation of the diverticula is called diverticulitis.
What are Symptoms of Diverticulosis?
Most of the time, diverticulosis does not cause symptoms. When symptoms of diverticulosis occur, they may include:
See a doctor if you have symptoms of diverticular bleeding, such as:
- A large amount of red or maroon-colored blood in the stool
What Causes Diverticulosis?
The main cause of diverticulosis in Western countries is thought to be due to a high-fat and low-fiber diet.
Other possible causes of diverticulosis include:
How is Diverticulosis Diagnosed?
Diverticulosis is diagnosed with a physical examination and patient history, along with tests such as:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Urine culture
- Stool test for blood
- A pregnancy test for females of childbearing age with abdominal pain
- Imaging tests
What is the Treatment for Diverticulosis?
Treatment for diverticulosis is focused on preventing the pouches from becoming inflamed and causing symptoms.
Treatment for diverticulosis may include:
Diverticular bleeding is rare but can be severe. Treatment for diverticular bleeding may include:
- Colonoscopy to find the bleeding and stop it
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan or an angiogram to find the bleeding site
- Colon resection surgery in severe cases
If the diverticula become inflamed and diverticulitis occurs, treatment for mild diverticulitis may include:
- Clear liquid diet for 2-3 days; progressing to a soft diet as tolerated
- 7-10 days of oral broad-spectrum antibiotics if needed, such as:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and antispasmodics for pain
What are Complications of Diverticulosis?
Complications of diverticulosis (if it becomes inflamed and diverticulitis occurs) may include:
How do you Prevent Diverticulosis?
The primary way to prevent diverticulosis is with proper diet and exercise. Diverticular disease can be due to a low fiber diet, so consumption of a high fiber diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and other high fiber foods is the mainstay of prevention.
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