Diverticular Disease

Signs and Symptoms

Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms and never develop complications. Without a complication, symptoms may be related to the low fibre diet rather than the diverticula themselves. Abdominal pain, cramps or irregular bowel habits are common symptoms and many doctors would say that these are due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) rather than to diverticulosis.

Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis

  • abdominal pain
  • infection
  • development of an abscess (a pocket of pus)
  • fever
  • elevated white cell count
  • Intestinal scarring
  • bowel narrowing and/or obstruction.

Risks associated with Diverticular Disease

Patients with repeated episodes or a severe attack may need surgery. Surgery is usually not necessary but is sometimes performed in patients with severe or frequent complications. Often the bowel can be joined together immediately. If there is an infection a temporary connection between the bowel and the skin (colostomy) is formed to avoid connecting infected bowel. This surgery can be reversed at a later operation when the bowel is reconnected. The long term outlook is good.

Risk of developing diverticular disease increases with age. At age 55 the risk increases by a factor of 10 and at 75 years the risk has increased to 40. 50% of Canadians over the age of 80 years develop diverticular disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Most people with diverticulosis have no symptoms and never develop complications. Without a complication, symptoms may be related to the low fibre diet rather than the diverticula themselves. Abdominal pain, cramps or irregular bowel habits are common symptoms and many doctors would say that these are due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) rather than to diverticulosis.

Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis

  • abdominal pain
  • infection
  • development of an abscess (a pocket of pus)
  • fever
  • elevated white cell count
  • Intestinal scarring
  • bowel narrowing and/or obstruction.

Risks associated with Diverticular Disease

Patients with repeated episodes or a severe attack may need surgery. Surgery is usually not necessary but is sometimes performed in patients with severe or frequent complications. Often the bowel can be joined together immediately. If there is an infection a temporary connection between the bowel and the skin (colostomy) is formed to avoid connecting infected bowel. This surgery can be reversed at a later operation when the bowel is reconnected. The long term outlook is good.

Risk of developing diverticular disease increases with age. At age 55 the risk increases by a factor of 10 and at 75 years the risk has increased to 40. 50% of Canadians over the age of 80 years develop diverticular disease.

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