Diverticular Disease and Diverticulitis

Diverticular Disease and Diverticulitis

What is diverticulitis?

Diverticula in the colon.Diverticula, small marble-sized blisters or sacs (pouches), which form in the lining of the colon (commonly found in the lower portion of the large intestine, just before the rectum) or small intestine can develop, when this occurs the condition is termed diverticular disease. When these pouches become inflamed and infected, diverticulitis (pronounced die-vur-tik-yoo-LIE-tis), a gastrointestinal condition, occurs and can be painful. Diverticular disease is regarded as a chronic condition, which requires lifelong management. Flare-up attacks may or may not occur following the first experience, which largely depends on a person’s state of health and how well measures to prevent complications are maintained.

Blisters or sacs form when the inner layer of the digestive tract is forced through weak areas in the outer layer. Diverticula can, theoretically, occur anywhere between the mouth and the lower portion of the large intestine (colon), where blood vessels run through the intestinal wall.

These blisters may occur without infection and are most common in individuals over the age of 40 (rarely causing any problems). Many with uninfected blisters may be oblivious to having them as no symptoms are present. The condition in this instance, is known as diverticulosis. To date, it is not fully understood why some diverticula become infected and others do not.

Infected diverticula may occur anywhere in the digestive tract. A tell-tale sign is a painful sensation in the lower left side of the abdomen, and rectal bleeding. Most often pain and bleeding is accompanied by other signs of infection such as fever, nausea and a distinctive change in normal bowel movements.
Diverticulitis is a treatable condition, but a person can experience recurring infections and / or diverticulosis (diverticular disease). The disease can be mild or severe (recurring), and is treated accordingly.

Illustration showing the difference between diverticulosis and diverticulitis.

 

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