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Diverticular disease is an infection in the tiny pouches that some people get in their colon. The pouches are called diverticula.
These pouches bulge out through weak spots in your colon. The pouches can become inflamed (red, swollen) or infected.
Diverticular disease includes these 2 health problems:
About half of all Americans over age 60 will have diverticulosis. Some people with diverticulosis also get diverticulitis.
Diverticular disease is often seen in developed countries. It is very common in the United States, England, and Australia. People in these countries eat less fiber.
Diverticular disease is rare in countries such as Asia and Africa. People in these countries eat more fiber and more vegetables.
Experts are not sure what causes diverticular disease. They think it happens when you don’t eat enough fiber. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body can’t digest.
Fiber helps make your stools soft and easy to pass. Eating more fiber helps stop constipation.
Constipation is the main cause of greater pressure in your colon. When you are constipated, your muscles strain to move stool that is too hard. The extra pressure from this straining makes the weak spots in your colon bulge out. These pouches that bulge out are the diverticula.
Experts do not know what causes the infection that leads to diverticulitis. They think the infection may start when stool or bacteria are caught in the diverticula.
Experts don’t know for sure if your diet affects your risk of getting diverticular disease. But you are more at risk for the disease if you:
Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of diverticular disease may look like other health problems. Always see your health care provider to be sure.
Your health care provider will look at your past health and do a physical exam. He or she may also use some of the following tests:
Your health care provider will make a care plan for you based on:
Experts suggest eating 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day. Your health care provider may tell you to eat more foods that have fiber, such as:
Treatment for diverticulitis may also include:
You may need to stay in the hospital if you have a bad attack with severe pain or infection. In some cases surgery may be needed.
Diverticular disease can cause other health problems such as:
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