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Diverticular Disease

What is Diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is a common condition diagnosed when small pouches called “diverticula” are found in the wall of the colon. Diverticula are caused when pressure, such as that caused by constipation, builds up inside the intestine and makes the intestinal wall bulge out in spots where the wall may be weak. Usually there are no symptoms. However, occasionally mild pain or cramping may occur, commonly on the left side of the abdomen. These symptoms, or any significant changes in bowel habits, should be reported to your physician.

Is Diverticulosis Serious?

Not usually. Most patients that have Diverticula do not have any symptoms. The Diverticula that form in the wall of the colon do not usually cause any problems and can only be detected by a medical examination.

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis occurs when one or more of the Diverticula become inflamed or infected. Symptoms can include pain and tenderness(severe at times) most commonly on the lower left side of the abdomen, a change in bowel function (constipation or diarrhea), fever, or even blood in stool. If left untreated, this can have serious implications.

Is Diverticultitis Serious?

Generally, diverticulitis can be treated with antibiotics and a high fibre diet. In more serious cases, surgery may be required. If any of these symptoms or any other significant change in your bowel habits occur, you should be seen by a physician directly.

How Do I treat Diverticular Disease?

The key to managing diverticular disease is avoiding constipation. First, evaluate your diet. Ensuring a high level of fibre is important to maintain regularity. You should also try to eliminate some foods and beverages that can constipate you, like fatty foods. Second, ensure you are drinking 8 glasses of water or other fluids each day. Third, you should exercise for 15-30 mins 3 times per week. Additionally, try to develop good bowel habits, get into a routine and ensure you have plenty of quiet time to spend in the bathroom. If symptoms flare up, consult your doctor.

Am I Alone?

About half of all Canadians aged 60 to 80, and a higher percentage of individuals over age 80 have Diverticulosis.