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Definition & Facts
Diverticulosis is a condition that occurs when small pouches, or sacs, form and push outward through weak spots in the wall of your colon. When diverticulosis causes symptoms, bleeding, inflammation, or complications, doctors call this condition diverticular disease.
Symptoms & Causes
Symptoms of diverticular disease may include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or bloating. Diverticulitis most often causes abdominal pain, which is usually severe. Experts are not sure what causes these conditions.
To diagnose diverticular disease, doctors review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order tests. Your doctor may notice pouches in your colon wall while performing tests for other reasons. If you don’t have symptoms related to these pouches, your doctor may diagnose diverticulosis.
Your doctor will recommend diverticular disease treatments based on whether you have chronic symptoms, diverticulitis, or complications. Treatments may include high-fiber foods, medicines, or surgery to remove part of your colon, called a colectomy.
Eating, Diet, & Nutrition
If you have chronic symptoms of diverticular disease or if you had diverticulitis in the past, your doctor may recommend eating more foods that are high in fiber. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
The NIDDK conducts and supports clinical trials in many diseases and conditions, including digestive diseases. The trials look to find new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease and improve quality of life.
Related Conditions & Diseases
Related Diagnostic Tests
Your Digestive System & How It Works
The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract—also called the digestive tract—and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.
See more about digestive diseases research at NIDDK.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
The NIDDK would like to thank:
Lisa L. Strate, M.D., M.P.H., University of Washington School of Medicine, Harborview Medical Center