In this lesson, we’ll learn about diverticulosis, a disease in which abnormalities in the intestinal wall, called pouches, can trap food particles. Examine the symptoms and treatment options for diverticulosis below.

What Is Diverticulosis?

Jim receives a call from his doctor to review the results of his CAT scan. Jim’s doctor explains he saw some abnormalities in Jim’s digestive tract. The doctor goes on to explain that the pain that Jim has been experiencing in his lower belly may be the result of a condition called diverticulosis.

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Diverticulosis is an outpouching of the lower intestine, which can cause undigested food to get stuck instead of passing though in the form of poop. Think of the intestines like a curved straw connecting the stomach to the anus. The food you’ve eaten gets digested and broken down in the stomach to a liquid. As it passes though the intestines, the nutrients and extra liquid get absorbed, and the food turns into a solid (poop) and is passed as a bowel movement. In the case of people with diverticulosis, the outpouching can trap food particles, particularly foods that are small and can’t be digested. If food gets stuck in the pouch, that part of the intestine can become inflamed or even infected, which is very painful and can make someone very sick.

Jim’s doctor explains that the risks of developing diverticulosis increase with age, and most cases are diagnosed after age 40. He also says that age, genetics, and a low-fiber diet may cause diverticulosis. A diet low in fiber may cause hard pieces of stool to get stuck in the pouches and lining of the intestines, which can lead to infection, abscesses, and bleeding.

Symptoms

Jim wonders if the diverticulosis is what has been causing his lower abdominal pain. His doctor explains that some people have no symptoms at all. Diverticulosis with symptoms is diagnosed into three categories depending on which symptoms a person is experiencing.

The first category is called painful diverticulosis. Symptoms in this category include abdominal pain, which usually improves after passing stool, as well as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.

The second category is called inflammatory diverticulosis. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, and bloating.

The third category is called bleeding diverticulosis. Individuals with this type of diverticulosis may experience cramping or bloody stools. They may also have a constant urge to poop.

Treatment

Treatment for diverticulosis depends on the severity of symptoms. For those without symptoms, a high-fiber diet is recommended. The doctor also tells Jim to avoid eating foods with small pieces that can get stuck in the pouches, such as seeds, nuts, and popcorn. Treatment is focused on reducing inflammation and treating infection. Other treatments may include bed rest, antibiotics, and pain medication. Resting the colon by consuming a liquid diet may also be beneficial. In cases where there are abscesses or intestinal damage, surgery may be needed to remove part of the intestines.

Lesson Summary

Diverticulosis is a condition of the digestive tract caused by an abnormal outpouching of the lining of the intestines. The pouches can cause inflammation and infection that may require medical treatment or even surgery.

Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.