Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are two common digestive disorders that are often talked about in the same breath. But what exactly is the connection between these two medical conditions, and how do they deviate from one another?
With this blog, we aim to clear up any confusion and provide a comprehensive understanding of these two conditions. So, let’s get into it.
What is Diverticulosis?
Diverticulosis is a condition in which small pouches, or diverticula, form along the colon’s wall. These pouches are usually harmless and do not cause any symptoms. In fact, many people with diverticulosis do not even know that they have the condition.
Notably, risk factors for colonic diverticulosis include aging, a low-fiber diet, and genetics. The condition is becoming increasingly common, affecting about half of all people over 60.
Symptoms of Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis typically does not cause any symptoms. However, some people may experience bloating, constipation, and mild abdominal pain.
Diagnosis of Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is usually diagnosed during a routine colonoscopy or another imaging test. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam to check for signs of the condition.
What is Diverticulitis?
If we are to discuss diverticulosis vs. diverticulitis, the latter is a more complicated condition that happens when one or more of the diverticula become inflamed or infected. This can cause various symptoms, including abdominal pain, fever, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
In critical cases, diverticulitis can lead to complications such as perforation of the colon, abscess formation, and peritonitis. These complications can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
Risk factors for Diverticulitis
Risk factors for diverticulitis include a low-fiber diet, obesity, and a history of diverticulosis. People who smoke and those who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen, are also at increased risk for developing diverticulitis.
Symptoms of Diverticulitis
The symptoms of diverticulitis can range from mild to severe and may include the following:
- Abdominal pain, usually on the left side
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bloating and gas
Diagnosis of Diverticulitis
Diagnosing diverticulitis usually involves a physical exam and imaging tests such as a CT scan or an abdominal X-ray. Your doctor may also perform blood tests to check for inflammation and infection.
Treatment of Diverticulitis
Unlike sigmoid diverticulosis, the treatment of diverticulitis depends on the severity of the condition and the individual patient. Mild cases of diverticulitis may be treated with antibiotics and a low-fiber diet, while more serious cases may require hospitalization and surgery.
Furthermore, surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon may be necessary in extreme cases. This procedure is known as a colectomy and can be performed laparoscopically or through an open incision.
Prevention of Diverticulitis
Preventing diverticulitis starts with maintaining a healthy diet that is high in fiber. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help to reduce the risk of developing diverticulitis.
Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking and NSAIDs can also help to reduce the risk of diverticulosis.