What are diverticulosis and diverticulitis?
Diverticulosis is a condition in which small sacs, called diverticula, form inside your large intestinal wall. Diverticula are mainly found in the sigmoid colon. When these diverticula become inflamed, irritated, or swollen, then the person has developed diverticulitis.

What are the symptoms of diverticulosis?
Most people with diverticulosis do not suffer from any symptoms. Others may experience constipation, bloating, or pain in the lower abdomen. Some of these symptoms may be chronic, or long lasting.

What are the symptoms of diverticulitis?
  • Fluctuating severe pain in the lower left abdomen
  • Fevers
  • Nausea or anorexia
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Abdominal cramping
What causes diverticulosis and diverticulitis?
Most doctors believe that low-fiber diets are the main cause of diverticulosis. Lower fiber intake causes the colon to generate higher pressures to push the stool through, thus causing formation of the pockets on the wall of the colon. Doctors believe that diverticulitis may begin when harmful bacteria find their way into a diverticulum causing a local infection in this small sac. Who gets diverticulosis?
Chances of developing diverticulosis increase with age, especially in those who are older than age 50. Though it is often associated with older age, diverticulosis is also becoming more common in young people. A majority of those with diverticulosis are male.

How is diverticulosis diagnosed?
Dr. Khorrami will talk to you about your health, bowel habits, diet, family history of digestive problems, and review your medical history. To further evaluate this diagnosis, he may recommend:
    Rectal exam
    This is a simple procedure in which Dr. Khorrami will examine your rectal area using a lubricated glove to check for bleeding, blockages, or pain.

    Blood test
    These are used to analyze your blood, checking for inflammation or anemia.

    Computerized tomography (CT) scan
    CT scans use a combination of x rays and computer technology to create three-dimensional (3-D) images of the human body. For a CT scan, the person may be given a solution to drink and be injected with a special dye, called contrast medium. CT scans require the person to lie on a table that slides into a tunnel-shaped device where the x rays are taken. CT scans can be used to help diagnose diverticulitis.

    Colonoscopy will not only help Dr. Khorrami examine your colon and check for diverticulosis, but for other problems as well. If any colon polyps are detected, they can be removed immediately to help prevent colon cancer.

How are diverticulosis and diverticulitis managed?
Treatment of diverticulosis varies, depending on whether a person has experienced diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding.
    High-fiber diet
    Studies have shown that diets rich in fiber can help reduce symptoms of diverticulosis such as gas and abdominal pain. Dr. Khorrami may prescribe you a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.

    Medication therapy
    Certain laxatives such as polyethylene glycol are prescribed on a long term basis to help eliminate the constipation that is associated with diverticulosis.

    Research has shown promising results from the use of probiotics, which are composed of bacteria that are naturally found in your gut. Probiotics can help treat symptoms of diverticulosis and other digestive problems and are often used as adjunctive therapy in a variety of digestive disorders. Probiotics can be found in certain foods such as yogurt and are also packaged in the form of capsules and powder supplements.

    Antibiotics are used when you have developed diverticulitis. They can be administered in the form of pills in mild cases, or in intravenous form in patients who are hospitalized with severe diverticulitis.

    Abdominal surgery is recommended in patients who have not responded positively to the above treatment options. The surgery involves removal the affected part of the colon and attachment of the two cut ends together.
Discuss Your Options with Dr. Khorrami
Dr. Khorrami has been in practice since 1996 as a double-board certified gastroenterologist. He is extremely experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Early treatment of these conditions can help reduce the duration of treatment and lead to a better outcome. Get in touch to learn about diverticulosis and diverticulitis and how you can successfully treat them.

Source contains material from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).


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About Dr. Khorrami

Dr. Payman Khorrami is a UCLA graduate, has been in practice since 1996, and is double board certified. Undergraduate Education at University of California, Berkeley, Medical School at University of California, San Francisco, Internal Medicine Training at University of California, San Diego Read Full Bio