Diverticulosis is a common condition in which pouches are formed in the wall of the digestive tract. These pouches are formed as a result of the inner layer of the digestive tract pushing through weakened areas of the outer layer of the same tract. These occur most commonly in the large intestine (colon) and the left side of the colon.
Diverticulosis is very common in the United States, occurring in nearly half of all individuals by age 60 and nearly all individuals age 80 and above. This condition is thought to be primarily caused by low-fiber diet that leads to constipation and increased pressure in the digestive tract and straining during bowel movements. This increased pressure is thought to cause the formation of pouches through weakened areas of the digestive tract. Regions of the world, such as Asia or Africa, have a very low incidence of Diverticulosis because individuals in these areas have high fiber diets rich in grain, fruits and vegetables.
Many individuals have no symptoms of this condition, but some may experience abdominal bloating, discomfort or constipation. Your physician will likely recommend increasing fiber in your diet to make stools softer and easier to pass. In rare cases, the pouches associated with Diverticulosis may become inflamed or infected. This is called Diverticulitis. When this occurs, individuals may experience fever, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and constipation.
Diverticulitis can be diagnosed with a CT of your abdomen and is treated with antibiotics to alleviate the infection. If left untreated, the infection may cause pockets of pus (also called an abscess) and may require hospitalization and IV (intravenous) antibiotics for treatment. In rare cases, diverticulitis reoccurs frequently and can lead to bleeding and/or blockage and need for surgical removal of the effected section of colon.