Diverticulosis Commonly Misunderstood for Diverticulitis

Majority of those diagnosed with diverticulosis may never suffer from diverticulitis


TROY, Ohio (June 8, 2017) – A large number of adults who undergo a routine colonoscopy may be told they have a condition called diverticulosis, however, they need to be careful not take the diagnosis to be the same as diverticulitis.

Diverticulosis is a condition where the inner lining of the colon protrudes into the outside layer of the colon as pouches or sacs. It’s a very common condition that affects nearly half of adults by age 60 and the majority of adults by age 80, according to Fayez Abboud, MD, a gastroenterologist with Premier Gastroenterology Specialists.

Unfortunately, diverticulosis is often misunderstood as diverticulitis, which is a condition that develops when diverticulosis becomes infected or inflamed. Diverticulitis causes abdominal pain usually in the left, lower abdomen. The pain can be accompanied by fever and tenderness when the abdomen is touched.

“Diverticulitis can develop into a severe condition that places someone in the hospital for treatment. In a small number of people, it may become perforated, which is a serious condition whereby a hole or tear develops in the sac and the contents of the bowel leak into the abdomen,” said Dr. Abboud, who practices with Premier Physician Network.

It is unknown what causes diverticulosis although research has shown that the condition is more common in western countries where fiber in the diet is often lacking. It is recommended that individuals consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, but most people don’t consume half of that, Dr. Abboud said.

“The theory is that low fiber diets lead to high pressure in the colon because the colon has to squeeze hard to move contents down,” he said.

Those who have been told they have diverticulosis should consider the following in order to lower their risk of developing diverticulitis:

  • Step up the fiber – Adequate fiber ensures that contents of the bowel will move regularly and also remain a softer consistency, making it easier for the colon to function. Consider adding a fiber supplement to your daily routine.
  • Just add water – Increased fiber will only do its job if it’s paired with adequate water intake each day. Fiber bulks up the contents of the colon, but needs adequate water to help it move out of a person’s system. Water needs may vary from person to person due to age, health and activity level.
  • Mind the myths – It’s been long recommended to those diagnosed with diverticulosis to avoid popcorn, nuts and seeds in foods, but Dr. Abboud said it has never been scientifically proven to make a difference. There is no need to avoid these foods in the diets of people with diverticulosis.

Diverticulitis, if caught early, can be easily treated with antibiotics. Most individuals will only experience a flare up of the condition once or twice in their life, however, in some instances it becomes a chronic condition, Dr. Abboud said.

“Having frequent attacks of diverticulitis can lead to complications such as adhesions,” he said. “Organs in the abdomen may adhere together. A fistula may develop, which is an abnormal connection between the colon and the bladder and other organs like the bladder.”

Patients who have chronic or recurrent diverticulitis may require surgery to remove the area of the colon where diverticulosis is present. Thankfully, the surgery is now a minimally invasive procedure that requires a hospital stay of up to a few days, but has a person back to normal life within one to two weeks.

For more information on diverticulosis or to find a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit www.premierhealthspecialists.org/gastro.


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