Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis is a common condition of the colon that can effect up to 75% of people by the time they are in their seventies.  Diverticuli are small pockets, or out-pouches of the colon that primarily occurs on the left side of the colon.  They are usually present after age 50, but some young people develop them by age 40 when there is a strong genetic family tendency.  By themselves, they are not usually dangerous.  They never go on to cancer, but they can exacerbate spasms of the colon, causing cramping in some patients.  Rarely, they can get infected by colonic bacteria and cause pain (usually in the left side), fever and constipation or diarrhea.  This is what is known as diverticulitis.  This is not usually caused by specific foods or eating nuts, as is commonly thought.  Despite the fact that this is written in many articles and books, we have not found this to be true.  It is advisable to avoid eating popcorn kernels or anything else that is not digestible, i.e. caraway seeds and may get stuck in these small colonic pockets.  Diverticulitis is successfully treated with antibiotics over 90% of the time.  Occasionally, an abscess will form and it may perforate, requiring surgery.  For that reason, If you ever get abdominal pain, fever, sweats, and altered bowel habits, you should contact your doctor immediately, so that early intervention can be undertaken.