What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is a condition which occurs when the inner layer of your digestive tract bulges through weak points in its outer lining, creating small pockets known as diverticula. While this can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, it most frequently takes place in the colon, or large intestine. While it rarely appears in younger people, diverticulosis is very common among the elderly, affecting roughly half of adults over the age of 60.
What Are The Causes of Diverticulosis?
What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Diverticulosis?
In most cases, diverticulosis by itself will not cause any noticeable symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are typically rather mild and include abdominal cramps, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
What Are The Risk Factors of Diverticulosis?
Other things that may increase your risk include smoking cigarettes, not getting regular exercise, and eating a diet that is high in saturated fats and/or low in fiber. There are also some drugs, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin and ibuprofen), steroids, and opioids, which may weaken the lining of the digestive tract, making diverticula more likely to form.
How is Diverticulosis Diagnosed?
Since diverticulosis rarely has symptoms, diagnosis usually takes place during an unrelated medical test or routine screening for other digestive issues. If you do have noticeable symptoms, tests will be taken to rule out other possible causes, as digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and peptic ulcers can have similar symptoms.
In cases which cause symptoms, your doctor will review your medical history, discussing lifestyle, diet, and other relevant factors, and perform a physical exam which may include a digital examination of the rectum. Samples may be taken of blood or stool to check for bacteria that would indicate an infection. CT scans may indicate the presence of inflamed diverticula, and a colonoscopy would allow your doctor to directly view the pockets themselves.
What Are Possible Treatments For Diverticulosis?
Are There Preventative Steps or Measures To Avoid Diverticulosis?
What Are The Risks If Diverticulosis Is Left Untreated?
Untreated diverticulitis can also cause the formation of a pus-filled abscess in the wall of the colon, which often requires hospitalization and may necessitate a minimally invasive procedure to drain the abscess. In rare cases, life-threatening issues such as diverticular hemorrhaging or a perforated colon may occur.