Diverticular disease is a term used to describe individuals with diverticulosis and diverticulitis.  Diverticulosis refers to pouch-like areas that can form in the muscular wall of the colon.  Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms and will not develop symptoms.  Some individuals with diverticulosis may develop diverticulitis, which occurs when a diverticulum becomes inflamed.  The symptoms of diverticulitis usually depend on the degree of inflammation present.  The most common symptom is pain in the left lower abdomen.  This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, a change in bowel habits, or urinary symptoms.

Diverticular bleeding is another potential complication of diverticular disease.  Diverticuli have a tendency to form at points where blood vessels enter the colon.  Diverticular bleeding occurs when a small artery located within the diverticulum breaks through the skin and bleeds.  Most cases of diverticular bleeding resolve on their own, but some people require additional treatment such as angiography (a treatment that blocks off the bleeding artery) or surgery.  There are several potential causes of rectal bleeding.  If you are experiencing symptoms, please call our office.

Diverticulosis is often found when a test is done for other reasons, such as during a routine screening colonoscopy.  People with diverticulosis who have no symptoms do not require additional treatment.  Generally, a high fiber diet is recommended with 25-30 grams of fiber daily.  Fiber may provide increased bulk to the stools.  Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  In the past, individuals with diverticular disease were told to avoid seeds, corn and nuts because it was felt that these foods could provoke episodes of diverticulitis.  This is no longer considered to be accurate and Dr. Schub does not suggest avoidance of seeds, corn or nuts if you have diverticulosis.

Diverticulitis treatment depends on the severity of symptoms.  If you have mild symptoms you may be prescribed oral antibiotics and a clear liquid diet.  If you have more severe symptoms (temperature > 100.1 degrees F, worsening or severe abdominal pain, or inability to drink liquids), then you may be hospitalized.  Surgery is sometimes required if the symptoms progress.  Surgery is also sometimes recommended after repeated episodes of diverticulitis to remove the diseased area of the colon.  Sometimes surgery is recommended in people who have diverticulitis before age 40 because the disease can be more severe in this age group.  In many cases the surgery can be performed laparoscopically using small incisions.

If you have additional questions or concerns about diverticular disease, please contact our office at 410-730-1000.