Sometimes small pouches bulge outward through weak spots in the colon. This is called diverticulosis. The pockets (called diverticula) can fill with intestinal waste. With diverticulitis, these pockets and areas around them get inflamed or infected.


Signs & Symptoms

For Diverticulosis

  1. Often this has no symptoms. Some persons may have:

  2. Mild cramps.

  3. Bloating.

  4. Constipation.

  5. Blood in the stool.


For Diverticulitis

  1. Severe cramping and bloating in the abdomen, usually on the lower left side. The pain is made worse with a bowel movement.

  2. Tenderness over the abdomen.

  3. Nausea.

  4. Fever.


Causes

A low fiber diet is thought to be the main cause. Constipation and overuse of laxatives may also play a role.

Treatment

Questions to Ask

Self-Care / Prevention

  1. Get regular exercise. Drink 1-1/2 to 2 quarts of water daily. Eat a diet high in fiber, but avoid foods that bother you (e.g., corn, nuts, etc.).

  2. Avoid the regular use of “stimulant” laxatives, such as Ex-Lax. Ask your doctor about taking bulk-forming laxatives like Metamucil.

  3. Try not to strain when you have bowel movements.

Common Health Problems  »  Digestive & Urinary Problems

Diverticulitis needs medical treatment. Diverticulosis can’t be cured, but self-care measures can reduce symptoms and prevent serious problems.

Do you have any of these problems?

  1. Very severe abdominal pain.

  2. Signs of an intestinal obstruction: Inability to pass stool or even gas; mild fever and weakness; abdominal cramps that come and go; the abdomen gets more and more swollen with increasing pain; hiccups that don’t stop; and vomiting.

  3. Blood in the stool, tarlike, or maroon-colored stool.

Do you have any of these problems?

  1. Changes in bowel habits last longer than 2 weeks.

  2. Tenderness, pain, mild cramping, or a bloated feeling. These are usually felt in the lower left side of the abdomen.

  3. Gas. Nausea. Constipation.

  4. Pain in the abdomen and a fever. (See Fever.)