Diverticulosis & Diverticulitis

diverticulosis-itisThese two names both sound very similar to each other, and often times patients confuse the two terms. I am going to describe the difference in such way that you won’t forget.

Any time there is an “itis” at the end of any word, in medical terms, that translates to “inflammation.” For example: bronchitis, sinusitis, arthritis, etc…

Diverticulosis is a condition in which there are sac like protrusion of the colon wall, through defects in the muscular layer. Diverticulosis is a very common condition, and about 30-50% of adults are estimated to have diverticulosis. Most common site for diverticulosis is the sigmoid colon, which is in the left lower side of the abdomen.

Diverticulitis is when the diverticulum become inflamed and cause abdominal pain, fever, and other problems related to infection. The treatment of diverticulitis is antibiotic therapy, however in severe cases surgical resection of that inflamed segment of the colon.


As far as the etiology of diverticulosis, there are most likely genetic factors involved, but diets low in fiber are also thought to be a culprit. How do you avoid Diverticulitis? In the past, doctors asked patients to avoid all seeds, nuts, and popcorn. Unfortunately there is no evidence for such practice and it may not be true. The only thing that may be helpful in preventing an attack is to avoid constipation, but even so, many people will end of having recurrent attacks, requiring surgery to remove that piece of colon.

Sometimes diverticulosis can lead to severe bleeding, and massive blood loss. The proximity of arteries to the diverticulum is the cause. There is usually no pain involved with diverticular bleeding, but it leads to losing several units of blood and the need for a blood transfusion. Most of the time the bleeding stops spontaneously, but sometimes endoscopic and other techniques are necessary to help stop the bleeding.