Diverticulitis Treatment & Symptoms

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Diverticular disease is common in the United States and among the population over the age of 60. It tends to strike industrialized countries where diets contain higher amounts of processed carbohydrates and less fiber, which is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Inflammation occurs at weak points in the wall of the large intestine (colon), which can cause pain, infection or the need for emergency surgery.
Diverticulitis is divided into two types: complicated and uncomplicated. In complicated diverticulitis, the inflammation that occurs in the colon creates a blockage, causing it to rupture, which can lead to an abscess (infection) in the colon. In uncomplicated diverticulitis, the inflammation causes abdominal pain due to a very small hole (a microperforation) created in the colon.

Symptoms of Diverticulosis
Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms; however, there can be warning signs.

Common symptoms include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constant bloating
  • Increased constipation
  • Chronic cramping

It is important to remember that these are nonspecific symptoms that may not be linked to diverticular disease and could account for any number of digestive disorders. 

More serious cases of diverticulosis may have additional symptoms, which could worsen drastically if not treated.

  • Pain in the lower abdomen, especially in the lower left side of the stomach
  • Bleeding
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold chills/night sweats
  • Constipation

Treating Diverticulosis
Houston Methodist’s gastroenterologists can detect diverticulosis with a simple abdominal ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan. The goal of treatment is to clean and clear the intestines of inflammation and infections to minimize any possible complications. Immediate options may include a change in diet to include higher fiber content, clear fluids and mild pain medications. Uncomplicated diverticulitis generally can be treated with antibiotics and resting the large intestine. Complicated diverticulitis may require emergency surgical operations, special imaging techniques and minimally invasive surgery , or a multispecialty team of doctors to create a disease management plan. 

Patients choose Houston Methodist because of the availability of state-of-the-art keyhole surgical techniques, highly skilled staff trained to provide expert care, rapid recovery times and a smooth transition from hospital to home.

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