Definition

What is diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is a condition that develops when pouches form in the wall of the colon. These pouches are usually very small (5 to 10 millimeters) in diameter but can be larger.

In diverticulosis, the pouches in the colon wall do not cause symptoms. Diverticulosis may not be discovered unless symptoms occur, such as in painful diverticular disease or in diverticulitis. As many as 80 out of 100 people who have diverticulosis never get diverticulitis. In many cases, diverticulosis is discovered only when tests are done to find the cause of a different medical problem or during a screening exam.

How common is diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis is very common and occurs in 10% of people over age 40 and in 50% of people over age 60. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of diverticulosis?

Diverticulosis does not cause any troublesome symptoms.

Over time, some people get an infection in the pouches (diverticulitis).

Your doctor may use the term painful diverticular disease. It’s likely that painful diverticular disease is caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Symptoms include diarrhea and cramping abdominal (belly) pain, with no fever or other sign of an infection.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes diverticulosis?

The reason pouches (diverticula) form in the colon wall is not completely understood. Doctors think diverticula form when high pressure inside the colon pushes against weak spots in the colon wall.

Normally, a diet with adequate fiber (also called roughage) produces stool that is bulky and can move easily through the colon. If a diet is low in fiber, the colon must exert more pressure than usual to move small, hard stool. A low-fiber diet also can increase the time stool remains in the bowel, adding to the high pressure.

Pouches may form when the high pressure pushes against weak spots in the colon where blood vessels pass through the muscle layer of the bowel wall to supply blood to the inner wall.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for diverticulosis?

Risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing diverticulosis include older age, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, diet high in animal fat and low in fiber, and certain medications.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is diverticulosis diagnosed?

In many cases, diverticulosis is discovered only when tests, such as a barium enema X-ray or a colonoscopy, are done to find the cause of a different medical problem or during a screening exam.

How is diverticulosis treated?

The best way to treat diverticulosis is to avoid constipation. Here are some ideas:

  • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.
  • Get some exercise every day. Try to do moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to do vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week. It’s fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
  • Take a fiber supplement every day if needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and do not strain when you are having a bowel movement.

This treatment may help reduce the formation of new pouches (diverticula) and lower the risk for diverticulitis.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage diverticulosis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with diverticulosis:

Eating a high-fiber diet, getting plenty of fluids, and exercising regularly may help prevent diverticulosis.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: July 6, 2017 | Last Modified: July 6, 2017

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