Diverticula are small, bulging sacs that form in the lining of the digestive system. Most often, these sacs are found in the lower part of the large intestine (colon). Diverticula are common, especially after age 40, and seldom cause problems. Diverticulitis is a condition that occurs when the sacs become inflamed or infected and can cause abdominal pain, nausea, fever and change in bowel movements. Medical attention is recommended for treating diverticulitis. In severe or recurring cases of diverticulitis, surgery may be required.  



Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis can include:

  • Persistent pain
  • Tenderness in the lower left side of the abdomen
  • Fever and chills
  • Sickness and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite



Diverticulitis usually occurs when feces become trapped in sacs (diverticula) that have formed along the colon wall. This allows for bacteria to grow and cause inflammation or infection or sometimes both. Diverticula can develop when weak areas of the colon give way under pressure and lead to a tear in the wall of the intestine. The exact reason for the formation of diverticula in the colon wall remains unknown; however, medical professionals believe that diverticula form when uncoordinated movements and high pressure inside the colon pushes against weak spots in the colon wall.


Risk factors 

Factors associated with the risk of developing diverticulitis include the following:

  • Increase of age
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Being a smoker
  • Diet high in animal fat and low in fiber
  • Family history of diverticulitis
  • Certain medications



A diverticulum can rupture, and the bacteria within the colon can spread into the tissues surrounding the colon (diverticulitis) leading to further complications. Complications associated with diverticulitis include the following:

  • Development of pus filled sacs next to the intestine
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blockage in the colon or small intestine
  • Fistulas: abnormal connections between two parts of the body (intestine and abdominal wall)
  • Peritonitis: an infection of the lining of the abdomen



Eating a high-fibre diet (fruits, vegetables, nuts, brown rice, pasta, others) can help prevent diverticular disease, and should improve symptoms