Diverticular disease is an infection in the tiny pouches that some people get in their colon; the pouches are called diverticula. The pouches bulge out through weak spots in your colon and can become inflamed or infected.
Diverticular disease includes the following health problems:
About half of all Americans over the age of 60 will have diverticulosis; some people with diverticulosis can also get diverticulitis.
Diverticular disease is often seen in developed countries and is very common in the U.S., England, and Australia; people in these countries eat less fiber. Diverticular disease is rare in countries such as Asia and Africa because people in these countries eat more fiber and vegetables.
The cause of diverticular disease is unknown, but physicians think it might happen when not enough fiber is eaten. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables and grains that the body cannot digest and helps make your stools soft and easy to pass. Eating more fiber helps stop constipation which is the main cause of greater pressure in your colon. When you are constipated, your muscles strain to move stool that’s too hard. The extra pressure from this straining makes the weak spots in your colon bulge out; these pouches that bulge out are the diverticula.
It is unknown what causes the infection that leads to diverticulitis, but it’s thought that it may start when stool or bacteria are caught in the diverticula.
It’s unclear if diet affects your risk of getting the diverticular disease, but you are more at risk for the disease if you:
Each person’s symptoms may vary and may include:
The symptoms of diverticular disease may look like other health problems; always see your physician to be sure.
Your physician will look at your past health and do a physical exam; he or she may also use some of the following tests:
Your physician will make a care plan for you based on:
Your physician may tell you to eat more foods that have fiber such as:
Treatment for diverticulitis may also include:
You may need to stay in the hospital if you have a bad attack with severe pain or infection; in some cases surgery may be needed.
Diverticular disease can cause other health problems such as: