What Is Diverticulosis And How Does It Affect The Colon?
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What Is Diverticulosis And How Does It Affect The Colon?

When someone is found to have Diverticulosis, it means that they have several diverticula bulging out in the colon. A diverticulum is a small pouch in the colon lining that has punched through the muscular wall of the colon. Diverticula occur mainly in the sigmoid colon, which is the lower part of the large intestine.

What Is Diverticulosis And How Does It Affect The Colon?

When someone is found to have diverticulosis, it means that they have several diverticula bulging out in the colon. A diverticulum is a small pouch in the colon lining that has punched through the muscular wall of the colon. Diverticula occur mainly in the sigmoid colon, which is the lower part of the large intestine. The size of the pouches can be anywhere from 0.2 to 0.4 inches, or 5 to 10 mm in diameter. These tiny bulges look like small peas. This condition happens in older adults and is often referred to as diverticular disease. About one-third of 60 year olds are diagnosed with diverticulosis and around two-thirds of 80 year olds will have diverticular disease.

Many people will not be aware that they have diverticulosis until they have a colonoscopy. It will often cause no symptoms. Other individuals will feel some cramping or pain in the lower abdominal area. They may experience some bloating or constipation. Severe cases of diverticular disease will cause intense pain. 

Diverticulosis is more common in those who eat refined grains. These grains lack the outer coating, or bran which is a source of fiber in the diet. Diverticular disease is more common in countries where refined grains are popular. Fiber helps the digestive tract to work properly. When there is a lack of fiber, the colon has to work hard to push the undigested food through the digestive tract. This increased force causes the colon lining to form a diverticulum, or pouch, on the outer surface of the colon wall.

Sometimes the pouches can get irritated. The neck of the diverticula can get bacteria and hard stool caught in it causing some swelling. This type of inflammation is called diverticulitis. This blockage can lead to complications such as infection, bleeding, tears and perforations of the colon. The treatment for mild inflammation is antibiotics and a liquid diet. When the symptoms of diverticulitis become severe, a person will need to be hospitalized and given stronger antibiotics as well as being fed intravenously. There are times when a person does not respond to antibiotics and surgery will be required. In this surgery, the affected part of the colon will be removed and the remaining healthy sections will be rejoined.

Once the colon is on the mend, a high fiber diet will be recommended. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains will need to be eaten daily to prevent diverticulitis. Physicians will tell a patient to follow the recommendation of The American Dietetic Association of consuming 20 to 35 grams of fiber every day. In some cases, physicians may also recommend a fiber product like Citrucel or Metamucil to be taken two to three times a day with eight ounces of water.

Image credit: LifeART Medical Illustrations

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Comments (12)

Thank you for a well detailed education on a valuable topic of health. Voted up.

Thanks for the explanation about diverticulosis. Well done.

Great health information that will educate many with this particular condition. +1

good to know a high fiber diet is key to such a subtle but common condition. voted up!

Excellent work.

I was diagnose with diverticulitis and I watch what I eat. Great article!

A fantastic write up and I've learned something new today! One thing though, I hope I never get diverticulitis. (And I hope I'm never forced to spell it without reference!)

Well researched, informative and educational piece of writing.Thanks

Exceptional piece of work here on how diverticulosis affects the colon. Easy to read and understand. Chocked full of important details. Very educational and helpful. I'm promoting this and will be back to vote it up as well!

My brother in law has this. He went through all kinds of horrible tests and pain before they finally figured out this was what he had.

Very good writing on a medical problem facing many people. voted up

Very informative. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

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