Diverticulosis is a digestive disorder that most commonly appear in the lower part of the colon called the sigmoid colon. It occurs when small pouches or sacs form and push outward through weak spots in the wall of your colon. Most people with diverticulosis do not have symptoms or problems. For some, however it causes changes in bowel movement patterns or pain in the abdomen.
Two major diseases are associated with diverticulosis. These are diverticular bleeding and diverticulitis. Diverticular bleeding happens when a small blood vessel within the wall of a pouch bursts. Meanwhile, diverticulitis happens when one or a few of the pouches in the wall of your colon become inflamed. This can lead to serious complications including abscess (painful, swollen, infected, and pus-filled area just outside the colon wall that may cause nausea, vomiting, fever, and severe tenderness in the abdomen), perforation (a small tear or hole in a pouch in the colon), peritonitis (inflammation or infection of the lining of the abdomen), fistula (an abnormal passage, or tunnel, between two organs or between an organ and the outside of your body), and intestinal obstruction (a partial or total blockage of the movement of food or stool through the intestines).
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diverticulosis is quite common, especially as people age. Research suggests that about 35 percent of U.S. adults age 50 years or younger have diverticulosis, while about 58 percent of those older than age 60 have diverticulosis. About 200,000 people are hospitalized for diverticulitis each year, while about 70,000 people are hospitalized for diverticular bleeding each year.
As most people with diverticulosis do not show symptoms, screening through colonoscopy is vital. Ask your doctor about it today.