What is it?
A benign condition caused by diverticula, otherwise known as balloon-like pockets in the weak areas of the intestinal wall. Typically, this occurs in most elderly individuals above the age of 60. These pockets can develop overtime secondary to constipation and straining with a bowel movement.
What are the symptoms?
Typically no symptoms will be noted with diverticulosis. However, with diverticulitis, patient’s will have left lower quadrant abdominal tenderness to palpation of the abdomen and sometimes can have rectal bleeding, nausea, vomiting.
How is it diagnosed?
Diverticulosis can be diagnosed via colonoscopy and barium enema. Diverticulitis can be diagnosed via a CAT scan and physical exam of the patient.
How is it treated?
Diverticulosis may be prevented if constipation is treated early on in life. Taking fiber supplements will help ‘bulk’ up stool and reduce the amount of pressure in the colon. Bulking agents such as psyllium are available over the counter. Diverticulitis requires antibiotics and resting the bowels by avoiding food and liquids. For recurrent episodes of diverticulitis occurring at an early age may require surgical evaluation may be needed to remove the diseased portion of the colon.
Are there any complications?
With diverticulitis, it is possible to have abscess formation, fistula formation, or colon perforation if it goes untreated.