What is diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is a condition in which small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in the lining of the intestine become inflamed or infected. It is a type of diverticular disease, which is a common digestive problem that occurs when the diverticula form in the intestine.


Who's at risk for diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is more common in older adults, especially those over the age of 50, as well as in people who have a family history of the condition, are overweight or obese, or lead a sedentary lifestyle.


What causes diverticulitis?

The exact cause of diverticulitis is not known, but it is believed to be related to the formation of diverticula in the intestine. The diverticula may develop as a result of increased pressure on the intestine, such as from straining during bowel movements. Inflammation or infection of the diverticula can occur if bacteria become trapped in the pouches.


How does diverticulitis start?

Diverticulitis may start gradually or suddenly, and symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the inflammation or infection. Symptoms may include abdominal pain and cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, and bloating.


What are the symptoms of diverticulitis?

The symptoms of diverticulitis may include:

  1. Abdominal pain and cramping, usually on the left side of the lower abdomen
  2. Fever and chills
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Constipation or diarrhea
  5. Bloating and gas
  6. Rectal bleeding, in severe cases


How is diverticulitis diagnosed?

Diagnosing diverticulitis involves a combination of symptoms evaluation and diagnostic tests. A healthcare provider may ask about the person's medical history and conduct a physical exam. They may also order tests such as a CT scan or ultrasound to help identify inflammation or infection in the intestine.


How can diverticulitis be treated?


Treatment for diverticulitis may include antibiotics to treat the infection, pain relievers to manage symptoms, and rest to allow the intestine to heal. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required for intravenous antibiotics and bowel rest. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the affected part of the intestine.


What complications may occur with diverticulitis?

If left untreated or poorly managed, diverticulitis can lead to a range of complications, including:

  1. Abscesses or infections that may require drainage or surgery
  2. Fistulas, which are abnormal connections between the intestine and other organs or tissues
  3. Intestinal blockages or perforations, which can be life-threatening


How can I prevent diverticulitis?

Preventing diverticulitis involves making healthy lifestyle choices, such as:

  1. Following a high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which may help prevent the formation of diverticula
  2. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, to help maintain regular bowel movements
  3. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
  4. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption


Long-term management of diverticulitis

Managing diverticulitis over the long term involves maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, avoiding triggers that may cause symptoms, and following a treatment plan as prescribed by a healthcare provider.


What is recent research saying about diverticulitis?

Recent research in diverticulitis has focused on developing new treatments and therapies to improve symptoms and prevent complications. Some of the promising areas of research include:

  1. Dietary interventions, such as the low-FODMAP diet, which may help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for people with diverticulitis
  2. Probiotics, which may help restore the balance of gut bacteria and reduce inflammation in the intestine
  3. Novel therapies, such as anti-inflammatory agents or immunomodulatory agents, that may help reduce inflammation and prevent complications


Where can I go for more information on diverticulitis?

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with diverticulitis, it is important to seek help from a healthcare provider who specializes in the treatment of the condition. The following organizations also provide information and resources on diverticulitis: