Diverticulitis is inflammation of the sac-like opening or pocket in the wall of the colon called diverticulum. Only patients with diverticulosis can have diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is the presence of diverticula. Inflammation is characterized by swelling, redness, and pain.
How Common is Diverticulosis?
The occurrence of diverticulosis varies by age. The older we get, the likelier we are to have diverticulosis. About 60% of people over the age of 60 have diverticulosis.
What are My Chances of Having Diverticulitis?
Only about 5-15% of patients with diverticulosis develop diverticulitis.
Do I have Diverticulitis? What are the Symptoms of Diverticulitis?
- Abdominal pain. This is usually left lower quadrant because diverticulitis is most common in the sigmoid colon. However, any part of the colon and therefore the abdomen may be affected.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Diaphoresis (sweatiness).
- Low Blood Pressure.
- Change in bowel habits. Either diarrhea or constipation.
- Blood in the stool. This is not common with diverticulitis.
- Symptoms of perforation.
- Symptoms of sepsis.
What Causes Diverticulitis?
While the main cause of diverticulitis is unknown, certain factors have been associated with diverticulitis.
- Diet: Low fiber, high fat, and red meat are associated with symptoms of diverticular disease. Contrary to popular opinion, nuts, popcorn and corn do not cause diverticulitis according to research studies.
- Physical Activity: Regular exercise appears to reduce the chances of having diverticulitis.
- Smoking appears to be associated with severe diverticulitis.
- Obesity is associated with diverticulitis.
- Medications: Steroids, opiates, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin are associated with diverticulitis. Statin medications and Vitamin D may protect against diverticulitis.
What Should I do If I Think I have Diverticulitis?
- Contact your physician.
- Go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room.
How is Diverticulitis Treated?
Some patients can be treated as out-patient because they are stable and the diverticulitis is not complicated. Others need to be admitted for treatment. Treatment usually involve one or more of the following:
- Antibiotics: Ciprofloxacin and metronidazole OR Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) and metronidazole OR Amoxicilin-clavulanate (Augmentin) OR Moxifloxacin.
- Pain medications.
- Intravenous fluids.
- Colonoscopy after the diverticulitis has subsided to make sure other conditions are not masquerading as diverticulitis.
What Else Can Happen with Diverticulosis?
- Diverticular bleeding.
- Symptomatic uncomplicated diverticular disease (SUDD).
- Segmental colitis associated with diverticular disease (SCAD).
- Stricture from diverticular disease.
Do I have diverticulitis? If you think you have diverticulitis, contact your physician. Click HERE for more information.