Diverticulitis is an infection or inflammation of the pouches in the digestive tract, most commonly affecting the sigmoid colon, which is part of the large intestine. It typically affects people over the age of 40, but it is not uncommon for a younger person to experience diverticulitis. Complications of diverticulitis could affect nearby organs and emergency surgery is sometimes required if the intestine has ruptured. The most common symptom of diverticulitis is abdominal pain. The most common sign is tenderness around the left side of the lower abdomen. If infection is the cause, fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramping, and constipation may occur as well. The severity of symptoms depends on the extent of the infections and complications.
Most people who suffer from diverticulosis do not have any discomfort or symptoms, however, symptoms may include mild cramps, bloating, and constipation. Other diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers cause similar problems. These symptoms are not indicative of diverticulosis. The differential diagnosis of diverticulosis includes colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. It also includes a number of urological and gynecological processes. Bleeding from the rectum is also common. Patients are commonly studied with a CT scan, but also barium enema and colonoscopy tests
The colon is a long tube like structure that stores and then eliminates waste material. As a person gets older, pressure within the colon causes bulging pockets of tissues. This pushes the walls out from the colon walls. A small bulging sac pushing outward from the colon wall is called a diverticulum. More than one bulging sac is referred to as diverticula. Diverticula can occur throughout the colon but are most common near the end of the left colon called the sigmoid colon. The condition of having these diverticula in the colon is called diverticulosis. A patient with diverticulosis may have few or no symptoms. When a diverticulum becomes infected and ruptures, the condition is called diverticulitis.
Diverticular bleeding occurs when stool erodes into a blood vessel at the base of a diverticulum. Rectal passage of red, dark, or maroon colored blood and clots occur without any associated abdominal pain. Rarely, blood may be black in those bleeding from a diverticulum of the right colon. Bleeding may be continuous or intermittent, lasting several days. Patients with active bleeding are usually hospitalized for monitoring. Intravenous fluids are given to support the blood pressure. Blood transfusions are necessary for those with moderate to severe blood loss. Patients with persistent, severe bleeding require surgical removal of the bleeding diverticula.
Serious complications can occur as a result of diverticulitis. Most of them are the result of the development of a tear or perforation of the intestinal wall. If this occurs, intestinal waste material can leak out of the intestines and into the surrounding abdominal cavity. Peritonitis, abscesses, and obstructions are some of the results caused by diverticulitis. It is important to maintain good bowel habits to help prevent diverticular disease or reduce the complications from it. Symptoms include abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.