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Continuing our review of Diverticular disease and diverticulitis - this week - causes and symptoms

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Diverticular disease and diverticulitis Part 1



Diverticular disease and diverticulitis are two closely related digestive conditions that affect the large intestine (colon). Small bulges occur on the lining of the intestines; these pouches or bulges can become inflamed or infected which leads to symptoms. Symptoms of diverticular disease include lower abdominal pain and bloating. Diverticulitis is more serious than diverticular disease and symptoms include more severe abdominal pain and a high temperature of 38ºC or above



Diverticula (plural is diverticula) describes the small pouches that stick out of the side of the large intestine (colon). Diverticula are quite common and associated with ageing. The pressure of hard stools passing through the large intestine that has become weakened with age causes the pouches to form. Most people with diverticula do not have any symptoms; this is known as diverticulosis.


Diverticular disease

1 in 4 people who develop diverticula will experience symptoms such as abdominal pain. Having symptoms associated with diverticula is known as diverticular disease.



Diverticulitis describes infection that occurs when bacteria become trapped inside one of the pouches leading to inflammation triggering more severe symptoms. Diverticulitis can lead to serious complications such as an abscess inside the intestine.


Symptoms of diverticular disease and diverticulitis


Diverticular disease

The most common symptom of diverticular disease is intermittent (stop-start) pain in the lower abdomen, mainly in the lower left-hand side. The pain is often worse when eating, or shortly afterwards. Passing stools and passing wind (flatulence) may relieve the pain. Other symptoms of diverticular disease include a change in normal bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea (or episodes of constipation followed shortly by diarrhea), bloating and rectal bleeding



The main symptom of diverticulitis is a constant and severe pain. The pain usually starts below the navel before moving to the lower left-hand side of the abdomen. For genetic reasons, Asian people tend to develop diverticula in a different part of their colon meaning the pain may occur in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen in Asian people. Apart from severe stomach pain, other symptoms of diverticulitis include a high temperature of 38ºC or above; nausea; vomiting; a frequent need to urinate; pain when urinating; constipation and bleeding from the rectum.


To be continued: next week


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