Diverticulitis - Colonoscopy

This condition occurs when small protruding pouches in the large intestine, called diverticula, become inflamed or infected.

This condition occurs when small protruding pouches in the large intestine, called diverticula, become inflamed or infected.

Diverticulosis is the presence of small protruding pouches, called diverticula, in the large intestine.

  • Most people with diverticulosis do not have any symptoms.
  • Diverticula are often found during a routine colonoscopy or imaging study.
  • The number of diverticula can vary from one to several dozen.

Diverticulitis occurs when one or more diverticula become inflamed or infected.

The risk of diverticula forming increases with age. However, it is not known why they develop.

  • Many believe they form when high pressure in the large intestine pushes against weak areas of the bowel wall.
  • Some feel that a diet low in fiber plays a role.
  • A possible genetic cause has also been considered.

If you develop diverticulitis, symptoms may include:

  • Pain or tenderness, usually in the lower left side of the abdomen
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea, constipation or bloody stools
  • Occasionally, burning during urination or increased urgency or frequency

Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of diverticulitis. He or she will look at your medical history and perform a physical exam. To check the severity of your disease and response to treatment, they may order:

  • Imaging studies (X-ray, CT or MRI)
  • Lab work
  • Urine and stool samples

Some procedures that may be ordered include a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.

  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that allows a healthcare provider to see inside the rectum and lower part of the colon (also known as the sigmoid colon).
  • A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a healthcare provider see inside the entire colon.
  • A colonoscopy is generally not recommended for people who have severe symptoms, due to the risk of perforating (putting a hole) in the bowel.

If you have diverticulosis, it is often recommended that you eat a high-fiber diet that includes such items as:

  • Bran
  • Whole-grain breads and cereals
  • At least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Adequate fluid intake

Your healthcare provider, who is an excellent source of dietary information, may also recommend over-the-counter fiber supplements.

If you have diverticulitis, treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms. For mild cases, your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • A low-fiber or liquid diet
  • Oral antibiotics

If you have a severe infection, or do not improve after outpatient treatment, you may need to be hospitalized.

  • You will likely receive fluids, antibiotics and pain medication through a small catheter placed in a vein
  • You may have a tube placed through your nose into your stomach. This is done to empty gas and liquids from your stomach. It also gives your bowels a chance to rest.

For severe or recurrent episodes of diverticulitis, surgery may be needed to remove the affected part of the bowel.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of diverticulitis.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.

  • What is my diagnosis and what treatment are you recommending? Are there any alternatives?
  • When might I start to see improvement in my symptoms?
  • What are the side effects of the medication you are recommending?
  • Is there an over-the-counter medication alternative available for the prescription medication I am taking?
  • Will the medication you are recommending interfere with any other medications I am taking?
  • What tests do I need? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change my treatment plan?
  • What should I do if my symptoms worsen?
  • What are my follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Make sure you understand your treatment plan, any possible alternatives and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects). If surgery is recommended, you should know why that recommendation was made. Seek a second opinion if necessary.

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Diverticulitis - Colonoscopy

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