Diverticular disease

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Diverticular disease

Diverticulosis is “the presence of” and diverticulitis is “inflammation and infection of” one or more diverticula (bulges in your colon wall). Diverticulosis is common, doesn’t cause symptoms or need treatment. Mild diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics. Surgery is needed if problems develop. A high fiber diet, exercise and drinking lots of water can help prevent.

What is diverticulosis and diverticulitis?

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are two conditions that occur in your large intestine (also called your colon). Together they are known as diverticular disease. Both share the common feature of diverticula. Diverticula are one or more pockets or bulges that form in the wall of your colon.

Diverticula are like expanded areas or bubbles that form when you fill the inner tube of a bike tire with too much air. The increase in pressure from too much air being pumped into the inner tube causes the bubble to form where the rubber is the weakest. Similarly, an increase in pressure inside the colon causes pockets or bulges (diverticula) to form in weakened areas of your colon’s walls.

Diverticula can range from pea-size to much larger. Although they can form anywhere in the inner lining of your colon, they are most commonly found in your lower left-side, in the S-shaped segment of your colon called the sigmoid colon.

Who is most likely to get diverticulosis and diverticulitis?

You are at increased risk of diverticular disease (diverticulosis or diverticulitis) if you:

Diverticular disease is one of the most common digestive conditions.

Both sexes are equally affected by diverticular disease and diverticulitis, although the condition is more likely to appear at a younger age (under 50) in men than in women. Overall, symptoms of diverticulitis are most likely to occur in people over 70 years old.

Diverticular disease is often described as a "Western disease" because the rates are high in European and North American countries, and low in African and Asian countries.

A combination of genetics and diet is thought to be the reason for this and the fact that people in Western countries tend to eat less fibre.

People aged 50-70 who eat a high-fibre diet (25g a day) have a 40% lower chance of admission to hospital with complications of diverticular disease – compared to others in their age range with the lowest amount of dietary fibre.

Firas Younis

Colorectal Surgeon
19 years of experience

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