What is diverticular disease?
Diverticular disease is a condition of abnormal pouches in portions of the colon. Diverticular disease is characterized by small, balloon-like sacs (diverticula) protruding through the muscular layer of the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract.
Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon, or large intestine. The pouches develop at weak spots in the wall of the colon. These weak spots occur because of excess pressure in the colon, or existing weakness in the colon wall, that eventually bulge out to form pouches.
High pressure inside the intestine may cause these outpouchings (called diverticula) to develop in areas of weakness within the wall of the colon. The development of these pouches is called diverticulosis. Rarely, diverticula may also occur in the stomach or small intestine. When the pouches become inflamed (often as a result of bacterial infection), symptoms such as cramping pains, fever, and nausea can result. Such an infection (called diverticulitis) is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention. Diverticular disease becomes increasingly common as people age and is a malady of 20th-century western society, primarily due to the consumption of a low-fiber diet.
Diverticula develop in mechanically weak areas of the organ. In the bowel, areas of comparative weakness occur at the sites where blood vessels penetrate the muscle layers. Pouches of the large bowel occur with increasing frequency as the population ages and most over 60 year olds will have diverticulosis and almost all over 80 year olds will have bowel pockets. If the pouches become inflammed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis. Inflammation will occur in about 10 to 20 percent of those with diverticulosis. While diverticulosis is generally benign and, because of its frequency, can be considered a normal aging change, diverticulitis is a more serious disease with potentially lethal consequences.
The condition is common in older people, affecting about half of Americans by age 60 and nearly all by age 80. Only a small percentage of those with diverticula will have symptoms. In a small number of people who develop diverticula, the diverticula become inflamed or infected. This condition is known as diverticulitis.
Diverticular disease was virtually unheard of before a hundred years ago. It has become common in western countries-especially the United States, England, and Australia-where the average diet consists of processed foods that are low in fiber. The change in the way wheat was processed into flour at the turn of the century-from a crushing to a finer rolling process-accounts substantially for the depletion of fiber in our diets. The condition is far less widespread in Asian and African countries, where diets still include large amounts of fiber. However, with economic development and changes in diet, the incidence of diverticular disease is increasing in African countries.
More information on diverticular disease
What is diverticular disease? - Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon, or large intestine.
What causes diverticular disease? - Diverticular disease essentially results from eating a diet with too little fiber. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest.
What are the symptoms of diverticular disease? - The major symptoms of diverticular disease are abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramps, alteration of bowel habit and occasionally, severe rectal bleeding.
How is diverticular disease diagnosed? - A complete diagnostic work-up for diverticular disease including colonoscopy, and radiological examinations are the basic tools for initial investigation.
What are the complications of diverticular disease? - Complications of diverticulosis include bleeding, infection, perforation, abscess fistula formation, and obstruction.
What is the treatment for diverticular disease? - The only treatment for mild diverticulosis is to increase fiber in the diet. For diverticulitis, antibiotics will be prescribed.
High fiber diet for diverticular diseases - Good sources of fiber for diverticular diseases include whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and a dietary supplement of fiber products.
What is diverticulitis? - Diverticulitis is a common condition in which abnormal pouches (diverticula) in the wall of the colon become inflamed.
What are the complications of diverticulitis? - Complications of diverticulitis may include a blockage in colon, an abscess or a fistula. Peritonitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.
What causes diverticulitis? - Diverticulitis can only occur in people who have diverticulosis. Diverticulosis is more common in people who have a low intake of fiber in their diets.
What're the symtoms of diverticulitis? - Symptoms of diverticulitis are due to the muscle abnormality and consist of pain, often abdominal distension, an irregular bowel habit with pellet-like stools.
How is diverticulitis diagnosed? - Diverticulitis is suspected after a history and physical examination. Diverticulitis is usually diagnosed during an acute attack.
What are the treatments for diverticulitis? - Treatment of diverticulitis depends on the severity of symptoms and whether this is a first attack of diverticulitis.
What's the diverticulitis surgery? - Emergency surgery is necessary for people whose intestine has ruptured; intestinal rupture always results in infection of the abdominal cavity.
What is diverticulosis? - Diverticulosis is a condition in which small outpouchings of the colon wall develop through time. Diverticula may develop anywhere in the large intestine.
What causes diverticulosis? - A low fibre diet can lead to small, hard stools which are difficult to pass. The pouches that develop are called diverticula.
What are the symptoms of diverticulosis? - Diverticulosis do not have any signs or symptoms. Diverticulosis can sometimes cause unexplained painful cramps, diarrhea or other bowel movement disturbances.
What are the complications of diverticulosis? - Diverticulitis can lead to complications such as infections, perforations or tears, blockages, or bleeding.
How is diverticulosis diagnosed? - Diverticulosis is suspected when symptoms such as unexplained painful cramps, diarrhea or other bowel movement disturbances, or rectal bleeding are present.
What is the treatment for diverticulosis? - The goal of treatment for diverticulosis is usually to reduce intestinal spasms, which is best achieved by maintaining a high-fiber diet (which consists of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains) and drinking plenty of fluids.