Diverticulitis is swelling and infection of diverticula. These are small pouches that can form in the wall of the large intestine.
|Infected pouches along the colon.|
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This problem is more common in older adults.
Things that may raise the risk of pouches forming are:
- Lack of activity
- Eating a low-fiber diet—fiber softens stools and makes them pass through the bowel more easily
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspirin use
Symptoms can come on suddenly. They vary from person to person and may include:
- Pain in the lower-left part of the belly
- A swollen and hard belly
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of hunger
- Fever or chills
- Loose stools or problems passing stool
- Bleeding from the rectum
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood, urine, and stool tests may also be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
The goal is to treat the infection and ease symptoms. Options are:
- IV fluids or a clear liquid diet to rest the bowel
- Medicines, such as:
- Pain relievers
- Antibiotics to treat infection
- Draining an infected abscess
- Colectomy—surgery to remove the diseased part of the colon
Increasing dietary fiber may prevent symptoms from returning in some people.
The risk of this problem may be lowered by:
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons https://www.fascrs.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases https//www.niddk.nih.gov
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Diverticular disease. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/diverticular-disease. Accessed February 9, 2021.
Diverticular disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/diverticulosis-diverticulitis. Accessed February 9, 2021.
Diverticulitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/diverticulitis. Accessed February 9, 2021.
Stollman N, Smalley W, et al, AGA Institute Clinical Guidelines Committee. American Gastroenterological Association Institute Guideline on the Management of Acute Diverticulitis. Gastroenterology. 2015 Dec;149(7):1944-9, technical review can be found in Gastroenterology 2015 Dec;149(7):1950.
7/31/2018 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/diverticulitis: Ma W, Jovani M, et al. Association between obesity and weight change and risk of diverticulitis in women. Gastroenterology. 2018 Jul;155(1):58-66.e4.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
- Review Date: 12/2020
- Update Date: 02/09/2021