Diverticulosis and diverticulitis affect the colon?the lower part of the intestine. Both fall under the header of diverticular disease, which affects up to half of people between the ages of 60 and 80. Thanks to their similar sounding names, diverticulosis and diverticulitis are often confused. Diverticulosis is the formation of small pouches in the colon walls, which may be caused by straining during bowel movements due to constipation. Food can become trapped inside these pouches, leading to inflammation and infection, which is called diverticulitis. About 10 to 25 percent of people with diverticulosis develop diverticulitis.

People with diverticulitis often feel pain in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, or a fever. Your doctor will do tests such as a blood test to identify an infection, and a stool sample to look for bleeding in your digestive tract. An x-ray or CT scan can help your doctor visualize the pouches. You?ll get a liquid called barium first, so the doctor can see your intestines. Sometimes a colonoscopy is necessary. The doctor will insert a thin tube into the rectum to look for pouches in the intestine.

Diverticulitis can be treated with simple dietary changes, such as adding more fiber to the diet to produce softer and easier-to-pass stools. Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, wheat bran are all high-fiber foods. Experts recommend getting at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily in your diet. If you don?t get enough fiber from diet alone, you can take a fiber supplement like Metamucil.

People who have an infection will need to take antibiotics to clear up the bacteria. Those with bleeding pouches, persistent symptoms, or other diverticulitis complications may need surgery to clean the abdomen or remove damaged parts of the colon.

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