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Bowel > Bowel Problems > Diverticular Disease > Diverticulitis


Diverticulitis is an inflammation of one or more diverticulum. The reason that diverticulitis develops has not been entirely confirmed but it is believed to be because faeces becomes trapped within a diverticulum. Bacteria contained within the faeces start to grow in number causing an infection. Infection usually appears in the sigmoid colon.

What are the symptoms?

  • The most prominent symptom of diverticulitis is pain, normally located in the lower left abdomen. This pain is normally continuous and may last for days at a time interfering with normal daily life.
  • Bouts of diarrhoea and constipation is also a symptom of diverticulitis.
  • Nausea and fever are also common.

How is diverticulitis treated?

  • Usually the treatment recommended is rest and a course of antibiotics.
  • Doctors may also recommend avoiding solid food and following a liquid diet.
  • A case of diverticulitis may be treated at the hospital as an inpatient or as an outpatient; this will depend on the severity of the symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be required.

Most people, after their initial bout of diverticulitis will not have any further symptoms. If there is a further bout of diverticulitis, the risk of further attacks is increased and the risk of complications is also increased.

Complications associated with diverticulitis

Antibiotics and bowel rest is usually enough to help get rid of the inflammation and symptoms of diverticulitis. If these treatments are not effective, the infection may lead to a number of complications.

  • Abscess - This is the most common complication associated with diverticulitis. You will know that you have an abscess if you can feel a tender lump in the abdomen area and you have a fever.
  • Inflammatory mass (phlegmon) - A phlegmon is similar to an abscess, it contains pus but the pus is found in lots of small pockets that are spread within tissue that becomes a hardened mass of infection and inflammation.
  • Fistula - A fistula is a strange tube or passage within the body, between an internal organ and the body surface or between two internal organs.
  • Bowel obstruction - In very rare cases of diverticulitis, the intestine can become blocked. The symptoms of an obstruction will be abdominal pain, bloating and vomiting.
  • Perforation of the bowel wall - Diverticulum can perforate which will enable some of the contents of the colon into the abdominal space.
  • Haemorrhage - A haemorrhage can be a very severe symptom of DD which is a loss of blood from the back passage. 

Further Information

We have a Fact Sheet on Diverticulitis which contains more in depth information. Please visit our Publication section to find out how to view this. 

If you are concerned about your problem and it is starting to affect your day to day life make an appointment to see your doctor, continence nurse or specialist physiotherapist. A continence nurse and specialist physiotherapist are healthcare professionals who specialise in bladder and bowel problems.

You can also call our specialist helpline on 0845 345 0165 (24 hour answerphone) for medical advice, or call our office on 01536 533255 to find out where your nearest NHS continence service is.
You may find that there are some products available that may be able to help you manage your symptoms. Please use the link box below to visit our product section.
Last updated: 12/09/2013

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