Many people have diverticulosis without ever realizing it, but only 5-7% ever have a problem caused by it. For those who go on to develop complications like diverticulitis or diverticular bleeding, board-certified gastroenterologist Jay P. Diliberto, MD, offers comprehensive and compassionate care at his private practice in Huntington Beach, California. If you're experiencing symptoms that could be related to diverticulosis, call Jay P. Diliberto, MD Inc. today or use the online booking form to schedule a consultation.
Diverticulosis is a condition where small pouches develop in your gastrointestinal tract. These pouches or diverticula can appear anywhere in your intestines but tend to occur most often on your descending and sigmoid colon, which is on the left lower side of your large bowel.
Diverticulosis is common in older people, particularly those 60 or over. It's not clear what causes it exactly, although some researchers say it's due to weaknesses in the wall where arteries penetrate to nourish the colon and due to spasming that results in higher pressures in the lower colon.
Many people have diverticulosis without experiencing any symptoms, only discovering the pouches when undergoing a diagnostic imaging test for something else.
However, for others, diverticulosis can cause bloating, chronic abdominal pain, and/or problems with bowel movements.
To see if your symptoms are due to diverticulosis, Dr. Diliberto would likely perform a colonoscopy. Less likely, he might recommend a barium enema, which involves inserting a tube in your rectum, inserting barium, and taking x-rays that highlight the pockets and the lining of the colon.
Diverticulitis is a complication of having diverticulosis and not the same thing. The pouches that develop when you have diverticulosis sometimes become inflamed, leading to diverticulitis; however, this only happens in 5-7% of cases.
If you have diverticulitis, you're likely to experience a fairly quick onset of abdominal pain, most likely on your lower left side. Other symptoms of diverticulitis include unusually acute constipation more than diarrhea, and a fever.
Sometimes diverticulitis can lead to further complications such as abscesses, strictures (narrowing of the colon), fistulas (abnormal connections between your bowel and pelvic organs), and perforations — holes that allow stool to enter your abdomen.
Diverticulitis is diagnosed by a detailed history, physical examination, and a combination of additional testing such as a Complete Blood Count and CAT Scan.
If not severe, it is treated by bowel rest and antibiotics.
If severe or complicated by an abscess or fistula, hospitalization may be required. In the worst of cases, the surgical removal of the sigmoid colon is performed 2-3 months after a severe attack. And more rarely, emergency surgery is performed.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of diverticulosis and diverticulitis, call Jay P. Diliberto, MD Inc. today and schedule a consultation or book an appointment online.