Diverticulitis is a recurring infection in the colon (large intestine) that causes bloating, cramps and abdominal discomfort, which may vary from mild to very severe, pain and associated with fever. It results from blockage and inflammation of the small passages of finger-like pouches that develop in the wall of the colon in many people as they become older. These pouches, or "diverticuli" are present in half of people over 50 years of age.

They may be even more common in individuals with a history of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Usually diverticuli cause no symptoms and are discovered on routine colon exams. (This condition is referred to as diverticulosis). Diverticulitis is not contagious. Complications include rupture of the diverticuli and spread of infection in the abdomen, forming an internal abscess, or occasionally severe bleeding through the rectum.

Home Care for Diverticulitis

  • During the initial phase of illness it is best to drink plenty of water and maintain a low residue diet such as potato, eggs, white bread, soda crackers, nutritional supplements, etc. After a day or two, higher residue bland textured foods may be added. These include bran, oatmeal, soy products and some fruits. Be careful to avoid anything gritty or coarse such as nuts, corn chips, cracked wheat, etc. Many people feel these foods contribute to the risk of further blockages of the diverticuli. Occasionally your physician may advise a certain diet.

  • Do not take any laxatives unless specifically instructed to do so.

  • Usually antibiotic medications are prescribed. Pain relievers may be needed. Take all medications as directed. Do not take anything unless advised by your physician; even some non-prescription medications can be harmful. Ask if you are not sure.

  • Your level of activity depends on the severity of your illness. In some cases strict rest may be necessary, but most of the time moderate activity is not harmful.

  • Complications can arise, so be sure to follow-up with your personal physician as instructed. Occasionally hospitalization and even surgery may become necessary. If you do not have a personal physician we will help you find one.


Call or Return If Any of the Following Occur:

  • Temperature over 100.4° F. or severe chills

  • Increasing pain, distention of the abdomen or vomiting

  • Passage of blood, particularly if it is a bowel movement consisting of mostly blood or clots

  • Problems related to the medications prescribed

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