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
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.
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.