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Diverticulosis
(GS010)

Introduction


Diverticulosis is a condition in which small sacs of intestinal lining bulge outward at weak spots. These pouches, called diverticula (diverticulum singular), are about the size of large peas and usually occur in the colon or large intestine. Occasionally they affect the small intestine, as well.

Diverticulosis is thought to be caused by a diet that is low in fiber. The use of strong laxatives and straining of the abdominal muscles from the resulting constipation causes increased pressure in the colon. This excess pressure causes the weak spots in the colon to bulge out and become diverticula.

When these pouches become inflamed, the condition is called diverticulitis. Infection may be caused by stool or bacteria getting caught in the diverticula Diverticulitis can lead to complications such as infections, perforations or tears, blockages or bleeding.

Diverticulosis affects more women than men and becomes more common with increasing age. About 10% of persons over the age of 40 have diverticulosis. Approximately 50% of persons over the age of 60 and almost all persons over the age of 80 have the condition. Diverticulitis only occurs in 10-25% of persons with diverticulosis.

Treatment usually consists of dietary and lifestyle interventions, as well as medication. Surgery is rarely necessary.

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