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"What is diverticulosis?"


I believe my father had diverticulosis, but he won't really discuss it with me. What is diveritculosis, and what should I know about having a loved one who has suffered it? Should he be eating a special diet to accommodate that history?


Diverticulosis is a very common condition of the colon. Diverticulosis is a collection of diverticula, which are small outpouchings of the colon. By themselves they do not cause any symptoms and they require no treatment.

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However, occasionally they can get blocked off by some stool and become infected. When a diverticula becomes infected it is called diverticulitis. The symptoms of diverticulitis are pain in the left side of the abdomen, fever, loss of appetite, and constipation. It is treated with antibiotics, bowel rest (not eating), and intravenous fluids. Sometimes diverticulitis can cause an abscess which would need to be surgically drained. If someone gets a second bout of diverticulitis, then usually we recommend that the portion of the affected colon (most often the sigmoid portion) be removed to prevent it from occurring again. People with diverticulosis can reduce their likelihood of getting diverticulitis by eating a high fiber diet and avoiding foods such as popcorn, nuts, and seeds. I suggest that you have your father schedule an appointment with his primary care physician. He or she can take a detailed history of his symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. Your father can then get an idea of what the next best step is. Good luck.

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