Diverticulitis symptoms

Symptoms of diverticulitis, which indicate that pouches have formed in the colon and have become inflamed or infected, can include some or all of the following:

  • abdominal pain
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • cramping
  • constipation
  • tenderness around the left side of the lower abdomen (most diverticula, or pouches, occur in the left side of the colon because this is where the pressure is highest).

If you have diverticulosis, where the pouches have formed in the intestines but haven't been infected or inflamed, then you may have no symptoms to speak of, or you may have mild cramps, bloating or constipation.

It is important to remember that digestive symptoms such as constipation can be due to many different disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease and Crohn's disease, and so it is important to have your symptoms diagnosed by a medical doctor.

Please do not rely on information found on the internet to diagnose or treat any condition.

Diverticulitis complications

As well as the symptoms listed above, diverticulitis can also lead to some medical complications. In a very small amount of cases one of the pouches in the colon can rupture or split, which can lead to waste products leaking into the abdomen. This can cause peritonitis, where the lining of the abdominal cavity becomes inflamed. Peritonitis requires emergency medical attention.

Patients may also develop a blockage in the colon, which stops food from moving through the intestine properly. A blockage may need surgery to correct it.

Another possible complication of diverticulitis is the formation of an abscess or fistula in the colon. An abscess is an area which has become infected and is filled with pus. It may require treatment with antibiotics or may need to be drained using a needle and catheter.

A fistula is a passageway between different parts of the intestine, or between parts of the intestine and other parts of the body such as the bladder. Fistulas may need surgery.

Diverticulitis does not increase your chances of developing colon or rectal cancer, although you may be given a colonoscopy (where a camera is placed inside your intestines) and cancer screening tests to be safe, as diverticulitis can make cancer more difficult to spot.

Another rare complication is bleeding from the pouches in the colon (the diverticula). If you experience this symptom then you may see blood in your stool or in the toilet after a bowel movement.

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