What are diverticulosis and diverticulitis?
Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that form in the lining of the large gut in some individuals. The presence of diverticula is known as diverticulosis.
- They are usually seen in people over the age of 40 years and
- They are mostly harmless.
The condition when one or more diverticula become inflamed or infected due to the accumulation of waste products and bacteria is called diverticulitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of diverticulosis vs. diverticulitis?
However, in a few individuals, diverticulitis causes symptoms - referred to as a diverticulitis attack or flare-up. One may have multiple, recurring episodes of flare-ups. The symptoms usually occur suddenly and may persist for days.
The most common signs and symptoms of a diverticulitis attack include:
What are the causes of diverticulosis vs. diverticulitis?
Diverticulitis occurs when one or more diverticula become inflamed or infected due to the accumulation of waste products and bacteria. Diverticulitis occurs due to the presence of diverticulosis.
Certain factors that may increase the risk of diverticulosis and diverticulitis, such as:
- Genetics: Genetics may play an important role. Having family members who have diverticulitis increases the risk of getting the condition.
- Age: The risk of getting diverticulitis increases with age, usually over the age of 40 years.
- Smoking: Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco products can weaken the lining of the colon, causing diverticulosis and in turn, diverticulitis.
- Dehydration: Dehydration affects digestion causing accumulation of waste products and harmful bacteria in the colon.
- Medications: Some medications, such as long-term painkillers or steroids, can cause weakening or irritation of the colon.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Regular exercise may decrease the risk of diverticulitis.
- Obesity: Being overweight causes increased pressure on the colon, increasing the risk of diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
- Constipation: Chronic straining while passing stools increases the pressure on the wall of the colon.
How is diverticulosis vs. diverticulitis treated?
Diverticulosis usually does not require treatment, but regular follow-up and lifestyle modifications may be advised.
Diverticulitis requires treatment and the treatment options depend on the severity of the signs and symptoms.
Mild or uncomplicated diverticulitis
If the symptoms are mild, diverticulitis may be treated conservatively on an outpatient basis, at home. Treatment may include:
- Antibiotics to treat the infection
- A liquid diet until the symptoms improve, after which solid food can be slowly included in the diet.
- Plenty of rest
Severe or complicated diverticulitis
A severe attack of diverticulitis may even require hospitalization. Treatment may include:
Surgery may be indicated in the following cases:
- Complications, such as abscess, fistula or bowel obstruction, or perforation of the bowel wall.
- Multiple, recurring episodes of uncomplicated diverticulitis.
- A weak immune system due to other conditions like HIV or diabetes.
There are two main types of surgery:
- Primary bowel resection: Diseased segments of the intestine are removed (resection) and the ends of the healthy segments are reconnected (anastomosis). This is also called bowel resection and anastomosis. It may be performed as an open surgery or a minimally invasive (laparoscopic) procedure.
- Bowel resection with colostomy: If the inflammation is severe, it may not be possible to reconnect the colon and rectum. In such cases, a colostomy may be performed. A colostomy is an opening (stoma) made in the abdominal wall, which is connected to the healthy part of the colon. Bowel waste (stools) passes through the opening and into the bag (colostomy bag). Once the inflammation resolves, the colostomy may be reversed, and the healthy segments of the bowel may be reconnected.
The following lifestyle modifications may help prevent diverticulitis or further attacks by promoting healthy bowel function:
Top Diverticulosis vs Diverticulitis Related Articles
Can Diverticulitis Go Away on Its Own?Yes, an attack of uncomplicated diverticulitis can go away on its own. However, you must visit your doctor for a thorough evaluation of the episode. Most attacks of uncomplicated diverticulitis are not life-threatening and usually resolve within a week. Complicated diverticulitis needs medical attention because it can cause serious complications.
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Diverticulitis SlideshowDiverticulitis (diverticulosis) is a condition in which the diverticulum or diverticula rupture in the colon, causing infection. Medical treatments such as antibiotics and surgery can treat diverticulitis (diverticulosis).
Diverticulitis (Diverticulosis)Most people with diverticulosis have few if any symptoms at all. When people do experience signs and symptoms of diverticulosis (diverticular disease) they may include abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Diverticulitis is a condition in which diverticula in the colon rupture. The rupture results in infection in the tissues that surround the colon. Treatment methods for diverticulitis include prescription medications, and in some cases, diverticulitis surgery.
Diverticulosis PictureDiverticulosis is a condition where a patient has diverticula in the colon. See a picture of Diverticulosis and learn more about the health topic.
Does Drinking Water Help Diverticulitis?Yes, drinking water may help resolve diverticulitis. However, the overall management of diverticulitis depends on the extent of the disease. Only hydration may not help in all cases. It is advised to maintain a liquid diet, such as clear liquids or broths, during the first few days of the diverticulitis attack. This is because constipation is a major cause of diverticulitis.
What Foods Should You Avoid if You Have Diverticulitis?What is diverticulitis? Learn what foods to avoid if you have diverticulitis.
How Can I Get Rid of Diverticulitis Fast?Getting rid of diverticulitis may require a doctor-recommended “diverticulitis diet,” along with certain lifestyle modifications as part of your treatment.
Is Diverticulitis Contagious?Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the diverticula or diverticulum. Diverticulitis causes are either infectious or noninfectious, however, it is not contagoius. Symptoms of diverticulitis include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, constipation, changes in bowel habits, bloating, constipation, fever, abdominal tenderness, swollen abdomen, fistula formation, and lower left abdominal pain.
Can Diverticulitis Cause Urinary Symptoms?Diverticular disease and diverticulitis both affect the large intestine (bowel). Nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and bladder symptoms such as pain or burning when peeing or the desire to urinate frequently are possible symptoms.
What Does a Diverticulitis Attack Feel Like?In many cases, diverticulosis doesn’t cause any troublesome symptoms. The condition may go undiagnosed till a routine colonoscopy is done. In some individuals, however, diverticulitis causes symptoms and may be referred to as a diverticulitis attack or flare-up.
What is the best treatment for diverticulitis?The best treatment for diverticulitis varies depending on the severity of the disease. Mild cases are often managed through diet, lifestyle changes, and medications.
What Triggers Diverticulitis Flare-Ups?Lifestyle remains the major culprit behind diverticulitis flare-ups, such as a high-fat, low-fiber diet commonly found in Western countries.
What Triggers Diverticulitis?The exact cause of diverticulitis is unknown.
Which Is Worse: Diverticulitis or Diverticulosis?What’s the difference between diverticulosis and diverticulitis? Learn what these conditions are and how to treat them.