Understanding Diverticulitis Symptoms

lady eating salad

Trust Your Gut

One of your body’s most important systems is the digestive tract. Often it works fine without a problem but sometimes small pouches can develop in the colon and become inflamed.

The colon (large intestine) is the last part of the digestive tract. It absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid. In certain cases, small pouches called diverticula can form in the colon wall. This condition is called diverticulosis. It's very common as people get older. The pouches can become infected. If this happens, it becomes a more serious problem called diverticulitis. These problems can be painful, but they can be managed.

If the Pouches Become Infected (Diverticulitis)

Treatment depends on how bad your symptoms are. For mild symptoms you may be put on a liquid diet for a short time. Antibiotics are usually prescribed. If these two steps relieve your symptoms, you may then be prescribed a high-fiber diet. If you still have symptoms, your healthcare provider will discuss more treatment choices with you. If your diverticulitis is severe or life-threatening, you may require surgery to treat the problem.

Understanding the Symptoms

Your doctor may recommend surgery if you have:

  • Bleeding from your rectum or blood in the stool
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting lasting more than a few days
  • Hole in your colon (perforation)
  • Inability to pass waste (bowel obstruction) resulting from a colon blockage
  • Intense pain in your abdomen lasting more than a few days
  • Multiple severe episodes which can't be controlled by medication and lifestyle changes
  • Severe infection resulting in sepsis
Minimally invasive surgery, using the da Vinci Xi® robot, can result in less pain and quicker recovery for patients undergoing diverticulitis surgery. Call (888) 704-5540 to find a da Vinci surgeon near you.

Help Keep Your Colon Healthy

A diet that is high in fiber aids colon health by helping to keep you regular and prevent constipation. Try to incorporate a healthy balance of the following foods in your diet:

Fruits and Veggies

If You Have Small Pouches (Diverticulosis)

Recommendations include:
  • Diet changes are often enough to control symptoms. The main changes are adding fiber (roughage) and drinking more water. Fiber absorbs water as it travels through your colon. This helps your stool stay soft and move smoothly. Water helps this process.
  • If needed, you may be told to take over-the-counter stool softeners.
  • To help ease pain, medicines to suppress muscle spasms may be prescribed.
  • Watch for changes in your bowel movements. Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.

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