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Types of Diverticular Disease: Is It Diverticulitis or Something Else?

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Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis

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  • Diverticulosis is the phase when a diverticulum or several diverticula have developed inside your colon (large intestine)
  • Diverticulitis occurs when the pouches become trapped with waste matter and bacteria, or become inflamed due to pressure and strain

While they are both classified as diverticular illnesses, oftentimes, diverticulitis is referred to as diverticulosis, but there are distinct differences between the two conditions.1

Defining Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis is the phase when a diverticulum or several diverticula have developed inside your colon (large intestine).2 These pouches or sacs, which are usually the size of peas or marbles, form in the colon, often when a person has trapped gas or hard stools, leading to constipation.3 Hard stools can then lead to excessive straining, which pushes the pockets outward on weakened areas of the intestinal wall.

In most cases, diverticulosis has no or very few symptoms and is usually painless. If it does cause symptoms, they are mild, such as abdominal cramping.4 Generally speaking, the presence of diverticulum or diverticula is only discovered when a patient undergoes a radiography or routine colonoscopy exam.5

What Sets Diverticulosis Apart From Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is the advanced and more severe type of diverticular disease. A patient who has diverticulosis may or may not experience this condition. It occurs when the pouches become trapped with waste matter and bacteria,6 or become inflamed due to pressure and strain.7 Diverticulitis symptoms are very noticeable, and cause severe discomfort. This condition manifests with pain, usually on the left side of the abdomen, although in Asians, it may occur on the right side.8

Diverticulitis also comes with other symptoms, such as nausea, fever, bowel movement changes (diarrhea or constipation) and vomiting. If not detected and treated immediately, it may resort to serious conditions, such as blockages, fistulas or peritonitis.9

Diverticular Bleeding: The Third Phase of Diverticular Disease

The third type of diverticular disease is known as diverticular bleeding.10 This occurs when a blood vessel near a diverticulum bursts.11 The main symptom of this is bloody stool or severe rectal bleeding that appears suddenly. The blood that comes out appears as dark or bright red clots.12

Although it’s not usually painful and the bleeding stops on its own, it is still important to consult a physician once you see blood when you do have a bowel movement. This is to ensure that you are not losing too much blood and to rule out other serious conditions as well.

MORE ABOUT DIVERTICULITIS

Diverticulitis: Introduction

What Is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis Causes

Diverticulitis Types

Is Diverticulitis Hereditary?

Diverticulitis Signs and Symptoms

Diverticulitis Treatment

Diverticulitis Prevention

Diverticulitis Diet

Diverticulitis FAQ

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