Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis) - Causes

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What causes diverticula, and how do diverticula form?

The muscular wall of the colon grows thicker with age, although the cause of this thickening is unclear. It may reflect the increasing pressures required by the colon to eliminate feces. For example, a diet low in fiber can lead to small, hard stools which are difficult to pass and which require increased pressure to pass. The lack of fiber and small stools also may allow segments of the colon to close off from the rest of the colon when the colonic muscle in the segment contracts. The pressure in these closed-off segments may become high since the increased pressure cannot dissipate to the rest of the colon. Over time, high pressures in the colon push the inner intestinal lining outward (herniation) through weak areas in the muscular walls. These pouches or sacs that develop are called diverticula.

Lack of fiber in the diet is considered the most likely cause of diverticula, and there is a good correlation among societies around the world between the amount of fiber in the diet and the prevalence of diverticula. Many patients with diverticular disease have excessive thickening of the muscular wall of the colon where the diverticula form. The muscle also contracts more strongly. These abnormalities of the muscle may be contributing factors in the formation of diverticula. Microscopic examination of the edges of the diverticula show signs of inflammation, and it has been suggested that there may be an inflammatory component to the formation of the diverticula.

Return to Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis, Diverticular Disease)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Miss Sicky, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 20

I am 44 years old and will be undergoing a bowel resection for diverticular disease within the next 6 weeks. I"ve had problems for the past 5 years, suffering from irritable bowel, antibiotic colitis and a ruptured bowel from a colonography (CT version of colonoscopy about 5 months ago. Since then, my diverticulosis has gone from mild to advanced and even described as aggressive. All I can say is that although I"m not crazy about having the surgery, I will be happy not to be in pain every day. And if any doctor tries suggesting a colonograpy with the presence of diverticular disease, get a second opinion!

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Comment from: david, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 13

Today after a few days of severe abdominal pain I went to the emergency room. I had my basic metabolic panel then CBC and differential, then CT abdominal pelvis with contrast, differential, ECG 12 lead, ECG physical documentation, insert peripheral IV, urinalysis, urinalysis, chemical analysis and urine microscopic. Result is diverticulosis. I went with symptoms of severe abdominal pain passing of blood and constant diarrhea. What shocked me most is that I have a high fiber diet and always have soft stools and am very regular. Having read everything about this disease I ponder on how I have it, I don't go to doctors and know my body very well, this was a good call for me I just can't think what to do to change my diet as I eat lots of fruit and vegetables with small amounts of meat if any. Let's hope the antibiotics work and this is the end of this chapter. I'm just grateful this is all it was and surgery was not needed. And I must stop thinking I'm 20 years younger than I am.

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