Diverticular Disease: Symptoms, Treatments


Diverticular disease is a group of conditions that occur when small pouches or sacs (called diverticula), form and push outward through weak spots in the wall of your colon. It can affect your large intestine (colon). These conditions include:

  • Diverticulosis. It is the base condition where the pouches form.
  • Diverticulitis. It occurs when the pouches become inflamed and infected.
  • Diverticular bleeding. It occurs when a blood vessel next to the pouches burst.


In most cases, diverticulosis causes no symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Painful cramps or tenderness in the lower abdomen

Since many other conditions can lead to these symptoms as well, see your doctor if you want to find out what exactly causes the symptoms.

When diverticulosis develops into diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding, symptoms are likely to occur.

Symptoms of diverticulitis involve:

  • Pain in the lower left side of your abdomen
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fevers and chills
  • Nausea or vomiting

Symptoms of diverticular bleeding include:

  • Red or maroon-colored blood in the stool
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Weakness


The exact cause of diverticular disease is unknown. Low-fiber diet is considered to be a potential factor. If you don’t have enough fiber in your diet, your stools may become hard, leading to constipation. This condition may increase the pressure in your bowel walls, due to which, diverticula will take shape.

Other factors that may play a role in the development of diverticular disease include:

  • genetics
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • smoking
  • decrease in healthy gut bacteria
  • increase in disease-causing bacteria in your colon
  • certain medicines, including steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.

In addition, the risk becomes higher as your grow older. Most people over 80 have diverticular disease.


Doctor usually diagnoses diverticular disease by medical history, a physical exam, and tests. To know about your medical history, the doctor may ask about your diet, bowel movement patterns, health, medicines and symptoms. During a physical exam, the doctor will check for pain, bleeding, hemorrhoids, or other problems by sliding a lubricated finger into your anus.

Tests that may be ordered to help make a diagnosis include:

  • CT Scan.
  • Barium enema (also called a lower GI series).
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy.
  • Colonoscopy


Treatments for diverticulosis aim to prevent diverticula from getting inflamed or infected. Options involve:

  • High-fiber diet

Having a high-fiber diet helps reduce symptoms and problems that may occur in people with diverticular disease. Those who have diverticulosis without any symptoms can also prevent the further formation of diverticula by adopting a high-fiber diet.

  • Fiber supplements

Your doctor may recommend fiber products such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) or psyllium (Metamucil), which should be taken with at least 9 ounces of water.

  • Medicines

According to some studies, mesalazine (Asacol) and antibiotic rifaximin (Xifaxan) may be helpful to treat diverticular disease.

  • Probiotics

Probiotics is thought to be beneficial to people with diverticulosis, but it is still under study.

Treatment for diverticulitis

If you have diverticulitis with mild symptoms and no other problems, your doctor may suggest a liquid diet for a period of time and oral antibiotics. When the symptoms ease after several days, you can gradually add solid foods back into your diet under the instruction of your doctor.

If the condition is severe, you may need to stay in the hospital and have intravenous antibiotics. At the same time, you will have several days without food or drink to help your colon rest. In case this period is longer than several days, you will be given an IV liquid food mixture which contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.

Treatment for diverticular bleeding

Diverticular bleeding is rare but usually severe. Although the bleeding sometimes may stop by itself without treatment, you should see your doctor immediately if you have bleeding from your rectum. To treat diverticular bleeding, your doctor may perform an abdominal surgery with a colon resection.

Keyword: diverticular disease; diverticulosis; diverticulitis; diverticular bleeding.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.