What is Diverticulitis? How Does It Differ From Diverticulosis?

Diverticulitis is the term for a more serious form of diverticulosis.

In diverticulosis, small pouches or sacs bulge out through weak spots in the colon.

Each pouch or sac is a diverticulum. The term used to describe two or more pouches or sacs is diverticula (sometimes diverticuli).

Diverticula can happen anywhere in the colon. However, they mainly occur in the sigmoid colon and descending colon which are on the left side of the body.

The protruding pouches and sacs can easily become infected and inflamed, as a result of stools getting stuck in them. When this happens, diverticulosis has developed into diverticulitis.

Ten to twenty five percent (10% to 25%) of those who have diverticulosis will suffer from diverticulitis. That's why both diverticulosis and diverticulitis are also known as diverticular disease.

Many people who have diverticulosis may never know as they don’t always experience any discomfort, pain or symptoms. But diverticulitis is different...

Diverticulitis is serious and can cause many complications, such as bleeding, holes, punctures and tears, intestinal obstructions and blockages.

Diverticulitis is especially dangerous if infection leaks out and contaminates the abdominal cavity outside the colon - a condition called peritonitis. Peritonitis requires immediate surgery to clean the abdominal cavity and remove the damaged part of the colon. Without surgery, peritonitis can be fatal.

Fistula is another complication. When diverticulitis-related infection spreads outside the colon, the colon's tissue may stick to nearby tissues. The most common type of fistula occurs between the bladder and colon.

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