Diverticulosis is a condition in which small pouches are present along the wall of the digestive tract. They are most often located in the lower part of the large intestine or colon. Most of the time people with diverticulosis do not have symptoms, although some may experience bloating, abdominal cramping or constipation. If the pouches become infected or inflamed, this is called diverticulitis. Some of the symptoms of diverticulitis are abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. Diverticulosis is caused in part by a diet low in fiber, which leads to constipation and increased pressure within the digestive tract during bowel movements.
Since most people with diverticulosis do not have symptoms, diagnosis is often made during evaluation for another condition or during a screening colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. Other tests that can help clinicians diagnose diverticulosis include CT scans and barium X-rays. These imaging tests allow healthcare providers visualize pouches along the digestive tract, if present.
People who have diverticulosis but are not having symptoms do not need treatment. If a person is having abdominal pain, bloating or other symptoms, then his or her healthcare provider may recommend a high-fiber diet to help the person pass stools more comfortably. Antibiotics are reserved for use in the treatment of diverticulitis. If diverticulitis is severe or happens repeatedly, hospitalization and surgery may be needed.