Colon Health: Diverticulitis

Colon HealthPatients suffering from a bout of diverticulitis can usually point right to it: belly pain in the lower-left abdomen. Diverticulitis happens when the wall of the colon develops small weak places that turn into pouches. These pouches, about marble sized, are called diverticula. If the diverticula tear and become infected, you experience the symptoms of diverticulitis.

Symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Belly pain, usually in the lower left side—the most common symptom
  • Fever, chills
  • Bloating, gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, sometimes vomiting
  • Low appetite

If you think you have diverticulitis, call your provider, explain your symptoms and make an appointment.

Possible Role of Fiber

Medical researchers aren’t sure what causes diverticula to develop. Many adults have them, although they don’t always become a problem. A low-fiber diet may be one reason. Fiber adds bulk to your body’s stools; without that bulk, your body must work harder to push hard stools out. That pressure may cause the pouches to form.

You may be able to avoid diverticulitis by eating a high-fiber diet, drinking a healthy amount of water and exercising regularly. A diet high in fiber includes fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Please see our article—Nutrition Corner: Increasing Dietary Fiber.

If you have concerns about your digestive health, talk with your primary care provider, or make an appointment with a PacMed gastroenterologist. These highly trained specialists treat disorders of the digestive system.