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Health Condition

Diverticular Disease

About This Condition

Diverticular disease is a condition of abnormal pouches in portions of the colon.

High pressure inside the intestine may cause these outpouchings (called diverticula) to develop in areas of weakness within the wall of the colon.1 The development of these pouches is called diverticulosis. Rarely, diverticula may also occur in the stomach or small intestine. When the pouches become inflamed (often as a result of bacterial infection), symptoms such as cramping pains, fever, and nausea can result.2 Such an infection (called diverticulitis) is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention. Diverticular disease becomes increasingly common as people age and is a malady of 20th-century western society, primarily due to the consumption of a low-fiber diet.3

Symptoms

People with diverticular disease may or may not have abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, and tenderness or pain, especially along the lower left side of the abdomen. When there is an active infection, there may also be fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting.

Other Therapies

For mild conditions, healthcare practitioners typically recommend adequate fluid intake and a high-fiber diet. Some severe cases might require a liquid diet or surgical removal of the affected portion of the colon. Giant diverticula always require surgery.

References

1. Halphen M, Blain A. Natural history of diverticulosis. Rev Prat 1995;45:952-8 [in French].

2. Thompson WG, Patel DG. Clinical picture of diverticular disease of the colon. Clin Gastroenterol 1986;15:903-16.

3. Ozick LA, Salazar CO, Donelson SS. Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of diverticular disease of the colon. Gastroenterologist 1995;6:55-63 [review].

4. Smits BJ, Whitehead AM, Prescott P. Lactulose in the treatment of symptomatic diverticular disease: a comparative study with high-fibre diet. Br J Clin Pract 1990;44:314-8.

5. Ornstein MH, Littlewood ER, Baird IM, et al. Are fibre supplements really necessary in diverticular disease of the colon? A controlled clinical trial. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;25:1353-6.

6. Leahy AL, Ellis RM, Quill DS, Peel AL. High fibre diet in symptomatic diverticular disease of the colon. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 1985;67:173-4.

7. Ewerth S, Ahlberg J, Holmstrom B, et al. Influence on symptoms and transit-time of Vi-SiblinR in diverticular disease. Acta Chir Scand Suppl 1980;500:49-50.

8. Tursi A, Brandimarte G, Elisei W, et al. Randomised clinical trial: mesalazine and/or probiotics in maintaining remission of symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease - a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2013;38:741–51.

9. Papi C, Ciaco A, Koch M, Capurso L. Efficacy of rifaximin in the treatment of symptomatic diverticular disease of the colon. A multicentre double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1995;9:33-9.

10. Handler S. Dietary fiber: Can it prevent certain colonic diseases? Postgrad Med 1983;73:301-7.

11. Manousos O, Day NE, Tzonou A, et al. Diet and other factors in the aetiology of diverticulosis: an epidemiological study in Greece. Gut 1985;26:544-9.

12. Elfrink RJ, Miedema BW. Colonic diverticula. When complications require surgery and when they don't. Postgrad Med 1992;92:97-8, 101-2, 105, 108.

13. Ozick LA, Salazar CO, Donelson SS. Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of diverticular disease of the colon. Gastroenterologist 1995;6:55-63 [review].

14. Aldoori WH, Giovannucci EL, Rimm EB, et al. Prospective study of physical activity and the risk of symptomatic diverticular disease in men. Gut 1995;36:276-82.

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.