Understanding the Difference Between Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

Unless you feel pain or trouble, you do not think about your digestive tract. Approximately 50 percent of people could have diverticulosis by the time they reach 50 years old.

It is projected that about 10 to 25 percent of those suffering from diverticulosis will develop diverticulitis.

At 80 years old, 65 percent of people are estimated to have diverticulosis. A research discovered that there is a growing incidence of diverticulitis in young obese adults. In the US, the costs of digestive diseases like diverticulosis and diverticulitis are over $141 billion per year.

The primary factors that doctors link in the development of diverticulitis and diverticulosis are heredity and aging. Additionally, a diet high in refined foods and low in fiber may boost the risk of developing these gastrointestinal tract issues. Approximately 10 percent of people in Western societies at age 40 years old and above have diverticulosis.

Read on to learn more about the difference between diverticulosis and diverticulitis, their signs, and their treatments.

What is the Difference Between Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis?

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are associated with digestive conditions that impact the bowel or the large intestine. Diverticulosis refers to the diverticula or the exterior pockets that develop on the colon. Often, they are often found in the sigmoid colon and have no symptoms.

About 50 percent of people in the US and Canada aged 60 years and above are projected to develop diverticulosis. At ages 80 and above, this number changes and becomes two in every three people.

Diverticulitis, on the other hand, is a disease that occurs when there are diverticula. Until now, there is no concrete understanding yet on what really causes this condition. About 40 percent of those suffering from this condition are believed to have acquired it because of their genes.

The remaining 60 percent is attributed to various environmental factors. Those who have a history of the disease are usually obese, do not exercise, and smoke cigarette a lot. In some cases, the diverticulum is inflamed and split, which may lead to infection. The inflammation could cause the bowel to narrow and be obstructed.

Symptoms to Look Out For

Patients suffering from diverticulosis may not be aware that they are already suffering from it. This is because it only causes few symptoms and is generally painless. The symptoms could include the following:

  • Constricting on the lower left side of your abdomen that fades after moving your bowels or passing gas. It usually increases when the area is touched.
  • Presence of bright red blood in thin stools
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Patients with diverticulitis have inflamed pouches that cause the pain in the lower left side part of the abdomen. This pain is severe and usually occurs unexpectedly. Other symptoms of diverticulitis include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea


Treatments for diverticular disease

  • Diet - A diet rich in high fiber is recommended to alleviate the symptoms and prevent you from developing diverticulitis. Each day, adults must at least consume 30 grams of fiber. Great fiber sources include dried and fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, starchy foods, cereals, pulses, and beans. There are also fiber supplements packed in packets that you can mix with water. It can help increase your fiber intake in just several weeks.
  • Medication - Usually, doctors prescribe pain relievers to get relief from the pain caused by diverticulosis. It’s good to not mix pain killers. These medicines can upset your stomach. Some doctors prescribe laxatives to help you be relieved of diarrhea or constipation.

Treatments for diverticulitis

  • Diet - Doctors may recommend that you go with a fluid-only diet for several days until the symptoms improve. If you are recovering from the symptoms, you can have a very low fiber diet of about 30 grams per day.
  • Medication - Generally, diverticulitis can be treated with doctor prescribed antibiotics. However, more severe cases of diverticulitis may require hospital treatment. In the hospital, you will stay hydrated through an intravenous drip. Most likely, you will also get antibiotics administered through injection.
  • Surgery - Surgery is a rare option of treating complications diverticulitis. It is only recommended if the condition has caused several complications. The procedure typically includes removal of the affected portion of your large intestine or colectomy. It is only done if there are rare complications like peritonitis, fistulas, or blockage in the intestines.
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