Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are both disorders of the gut that can have a profound impact on your health and well being. Let’s discuss these often misunderstood terms in more detail to help clarify the situation.

diverticulosis, diverticulitis, diverticul
Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Diverticulosis results in formation of small pouches in the gut

Diverticulosis is a disease in which there are small sacs or pouches on the wall or inner wall of the digestive tract. These pockets appear when the inner layer of the digestive tract passes through the weak points of the outer layer. Diverticulosis occurs when the wall of the diverticulum becomes too thick and protrudes from the colon wall. There are several diverticulosis symptoms and the most common of them is abdominal pain. It is however, not possible to completely cure diverticulosis.

Sometimes, diverticulosis can be mild and manifests only through nausea or diarrhea. In other cases, it may be more severe, causing obstruction in one’s digestive system. Diverticulitis, on the other hand, is a broad term to define a number of related conditions. It is impossible to treat diverticulitis without also treating diverticulosis.

Diverticulitis pilaris is the inflammation of the lining of the pouches that are found at the bottom of the colon. If pouches get inflamed and rupture, they may develop into perforated segments called diverticula, which becomes inflamed. These may then leak out of the colon wall and become lodged in various areas including the lungs, the liver and the heart. If left untreated, these pouches can cause ascites or fissures that open up blood vessels and give rise to fever and abdominal pains.

Another disease associated with the colon and characterized by similar symptoms to diverticulism are colonic diverticulopathy. It is an inherited inflammatory bowel disease that is characterized by inflammation of the lining of the large intestine as well as the protruding colon. In mild forms of the disease, the large intestine protrudes outwards along the colon wall. In more severe forms, the colon wall actually twists outwards. In both these conditions, the affected person may suffer from constipation, indigestion, diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating of the stools.

This disease is very common among people who have origins rich in collagen. It is therefore a common genetic disease and there is no known cure for it. Treating colonic diverticulitis involves surgery, which is followed by a strict diet. Once a person’s diet is under control, the incidence usually disappears.

Diverticulosis pilaris is characterized by the presence of pouches in the colon wall. These pouches are known as diverticula. They occur in around 20% of people with diverticulosis. Puffiness, abdominal pain and vomiting are the common symptoms of pouches. These pouches sometimes extend up to the upper thighs.

Diverticulosis pilaris is also a very common inflammatory bowel disease. It commonly occurs among overweight people, who also tend to suffer from constipation. When one suffers from diverticulosis pilaris, abdominal pain and severe water retention are common. In addition, diarrhea is common and often varies in intensity.

Diverticulosis pilaris and diverticulitis pilaris both are caused by the same genetic disorder, but their effects on patients are different. Diverticulosis pilaris often leaves behind scarring. However, diverticulism and perforation are rarely found in the presence of pouches. In diverticulocystic mesothelioma, perforation of the lining of the colon is the most common cause of death. If colon cancer is present in a patient with diverticulo-inflammatory disease, it may result in perforation of the wall of the colon. Thus, diverticulous diseases should be promptly diagnosed and treated.

Diverticulitis is inflammation of the diverticulum

diverticulosis, diverticulitis, diverticul

Image in Public Domain From Wiki Creative Commons 

Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the small pouches, diverticulum, formed by the combination of the inguinal canal and the small intestine. Diverticulitis occurs more commonly in children and is found to be associated with increased risks of perforation and colon cancer. The common symptoms of diverticulitis are: abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea, blood in the stool, and weight loss. Children may also experience constipation, fever, and a decreased appetite.

The second most common type of diverticulitis is sigmoid colon diverticulitis. This is characterized by the presence of a narrow band of tissue in the lower colon (sigmoid), which lies between the anus and the rectum. This narrowing of the band makes it easier for waste products and undigested food to reflux into the esophagus and stomach. In addition, the band provides a warm and moist environment that is perfect for bacterial growth. Sigmoid diverticulitis usually does not require surgery, but more severe cases may require tissue drainage and softening.

Another common cause of diverticulitis is acute diverticulitis, which usually presents with symptoms of purulence and abdominal pain. These symptoms become inflamed when a strain is applied on the diverticula or when the colon is subjected to obstruction. The most common treatment for acute diverticulitis is surgery, although in some instances, antibiotics may be sufficient.

In most cases of diverticulitis, the symptoms can be relieved with simple modifications to the diet, daily activity, and exercise. Although they will not prevent a recurrence of this condition, changes in behavior and the immediate need for surgery often lead to timely diagnosis and successful surgery. Surgical procedures, performed routinely and correctly, have a very high success rate, but in some cases, particularly in patients with more severe complications, more radical interventions are required.

Many people seek the help of a Gastroenterologist (doctors who specialize in treating diseases of the digestive tract) in cases of diverticulitis or other colon problems. Some physicians prefer to perform the surgery themselves, while others believe it is best left to the experts. If caught early enough, diverticulitis can be easily cured.

Recommended further reading




Note: This article is for educational purposes only, and not intended to provide medical advice. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician to determine the best treatment options available for you.