Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is caused by the herniation of the surface of the colon through the muscular layer of the colon. This produces a small saclike swelling in the colon wall called a diverticula. The most common locations for a diverticula are in the sigmoid and distal colon. The exact reason for this herniation is not known. Up to 20% of the general population is affected with diverticulosis. Older patients tend to have diverticuli more often than younger patients. Up to 50% of patients at age 50 will have them. Patients who eat a low – fiber diet are much more apt to form diverticula. Diverticuli may be found by a barium enema x-ray, or may also be found during a colonoscopy, or flexible sigmoidoscopy. This condition is a life long problem. Complications such as infection, called diverticulitis, and bleeding can occur.

Symptoms of Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis usually doesn’t have any symptoms. About 10%- 20% of patients with this condition will have mild, left-sided abdominal cramping. A bowel movement or passing gas often relives the cramping. Constipation may also be an occasional problem.

Treatment

The best treatment is prevention. A diet high in fiber protects the colon from diverticulosis and, therefore, the complications of pain and bleeding that can occur. Once diverticula have developed, treatment is not necessary unless there are symptoms. For symptoms, a change in diet and stool will sometimes help.

Usually patients who eat a high-fiber , low-salt, low fat diet, drink plenty of fluids, maintain proper physical activity , maintain proper weight, maintain good bowel habits by trying to have a bowel movement daily, can control the effects of diverticulosis. Also watch for signs of blood in the stool or dark tarry bowel movements. You should not strain with bowel movements.

When to Call Your Doctor:

If you have blood in the stool.

If abdominal pain develops or becomes worse.

If a fever develops and you have abdominal pain.

Surgical Associates of Palm Beach County / Boca Care (SAPBC) is a multi-specialty surgical group practice with expertise in General, Breast, Vascular, Endovascular, Thoracic, Colon Rectal, and Surgical Oncology. Our office is located in Boca Raton Florida.

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