AGA Family of Websites: Gastro.org
AGA Journals
AGA Journals
AGA University
AGA University
AGA University
AGA Research Foundation
AGA University
AGA Community
AGA University
AGA Job Board

Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis is when pockets (diverticula) form in the wall of the colon (large bowel) and become infected or swollen. Symptoms include pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation and fever.
Overview

Overview

By age 50, about half of people have diverticulosis, a health issue in which pockets (or diverticula) form in the wall of the large bowel. In about 5 percent of people, these pockets may become infected or swollen, which is called diverticulitis.
  • Diverticulitis can be painful.
  • It often comes about quickly.
  • Diverticulitis may need to be treated with an antibiotic.
  • Recent data reveals that 20% of people with diverticulitis over 16 years, have recurrent flare-ups, often within five years of the first attack.
  • There are steps you can take to lower the risk of future attacks.

Symptoms

Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
  • Belly pain and cramping, soreness, often on the lower left side.
  • Fever.
  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea (loose stool) or constipation (hard stool or trouble passing stool).
  • Nausea.
  • Throwing up.
  • Chills.

Getting Tested

Risk Factors

Diverticulitis can often be suspected based on your past health issues and a physical exam, though other tests may be needed, as well. Your doctor will talk to you about what is best for you.

CT scan

  • This is the most common test to find diverticulitis.
  • You will either drink a special liquid and/or have the liquid put into your vein, which will help light your organs on an X-ray so that your doctor is able to see them better.

Other tests

  • Blood test: You may have blood drawn for further evaluation.
  • Stool sample: You may submit your stool to be looked at under a microscope.
Treatment

Treatment

 

 

Uncomplicated diverticulitis is treated with plenty of rest and possibly antibiotics.

Some people with more severe or complicated diverticulitis may be admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics, drainage of abscesses or emergency surgery.

Once treated, most people start feeling better within a few days. If your diverticulitis keeps coming back, your doctor may think about doing surgery to remove a part of your colon.
There are ways to try to stop diverticulitis from coming back, such as:

Eat a diet that is high in fiber

  • After your diverticulitis is cleared, slowly start adding more fiber to your diet.
  • Try eating at least eight grams of fiber in each meal.
  • Good foods to have in your meals to get more fiber include:
    • Berries.
    • Beans.
    • Green veggies.
    • Grains/oats.
  • Note: You do not have to avoid seeds, nuts or popcorn.

Exercise

  • Working out for 30 minutes three times a week could help stop future attacks.
  • Your workout should get your heart pumping and make you start to sweat.
  • Good workouts include:
    • Jogging.
    • Swimming.
    • Aerobics classes.
    • Competitive sports.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How can I tell if I am getting enough fiber in my daily diet?
  • Am I healthy enough to start (or carry on with) working out after I get better?
  • Should I avoid aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs e.g. ibuprofen)?
  • Should I get a colonoscopy?
Complications

Complications

Issues that could come from diverticulitis include:
  • A block in the colon.
  • An infection.
  • A tear (perforation) in the colon.
  • An abscess.
  • Urinary tract infections.
In rare cases, diverticulitis can be a warning sign for colon cancer.
  • Getting a colonoscopy can rule this out.
  • If you have not had a colonoscopy lately, talk to your doctor about getting one a couple months after you feel better.

By using this site, you agree to our updated Privacy Policy.