What is it?
Small, painless pouches, called diverticula, can develop in the walls of the digestive tract. Diverticulosis is a condition that is created when numerous pouches form in the colon. It is not known what causes these pouches to develop. It is believed to be caused, in part, by lack of dietary fiber, which can lead to constipation and pressure on the digestive tract. This pressure, over time, can cause the tract walls to become weak, which causes diverticula to develop.
Who's at Risk?
More than 50 percent of adults age 60 and older have diverticulosis; nearly everyone will have the condition by age 80.
The majority of people with diverticulosis do not have any symptoms or discomfort. If the pouches in the digestive tract walls become infected or inflamed, it can develop into a condition called diverticulitis. This condition has noticeable symptoms: pain in the abdomen, changes in bowel habits, fever, and bloating.
Diverticulitis is normally discovered with colonoscopy or barium enema.