Diverticular Disease

By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC

Diverticular disease includes diverticulosis and diverticulitis, two better-known diseases of the pouches in the entire GI tract except the rectum.   It is found in men as well as women, mostly those that are over the age of 65.  With most diseases, there are risk factors that are found with diverticulosis and diverticulitis.  Most commonly, age greater than 40, low-fiber diets, sedentary lifestyles and obesity, previous attacks of diverticulitis, smoking, use of NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen, as well as opiate pain killers.

Although more than 85% of patients that have diverticulosis have no symptoms, those that do complain of abdominal pain, dull and colicky, mostly in the left lower quadrant.  The pain may be worsened by eating and improved by eating and having bowel movements.  There may also be diarrhea or constipation.

The symptoms of diverticulitis include acute abdominal pain that typically occurs in the left lower quadrant, fever and or chills, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.

The treatment for diverticulosis is simply fiber supplementation such as psyllium to soften stools.  For diverticulitis, usually broad-spectrum antibiotics will take care of the symptoms, but in more severe cases, hospitalization may be required.