Diverticulitis is a disease of large intestines. Specific pockets made of intestinal wall form and when they get inflamed diverticulitis occurs. One explanation why diverticulum develops is increased pressure within intestines. The condition may be caused by insufficient amount of fiber in diet.Abdominal pain is specific symptom for diverticulitis although it can occur in numerous gastrointestinal diseases. What can point to diverticulitis is localization of pain. It is mainly present in left part of lower abdomen. Additional symptoms includes nausea, vomiting and the sensation of increased body temperature. Still there is no fever only the feeling of fever. Cramps together with constipation may be a sign of the disease too. The pain is at the beginning slight but tends to intensify gradually.
10 to 25% percent of all patients suffering from diverticula develop diverticulitis. There are several complications that might develop as a consequence of infection or inflammation of diverticula. This includes hemorrhage, abscesses, intestinal obstruction, perforation, peritonitis, and fistulas and have to be taken care of as soon as possible.
Hemorrhage from the inflamed diverticula does not happen so often. Depending on the spot of bleeding the blood may be visible on toilet paper (in case the bleeding affects lower parts of bowel) and it may be present in the stool (if bleeding occurs in upper parts of large intestines). Hemorrhage mostly stops spontaneously. In case of severe bleeding or bleeding from rectum one should visit a doctor for further treatment.
Infection of diverticula is treated with antibiotics and resolves within few days. Still in case of improper or delayed treatment one may develop abscess. This collection of pus is located in the surrounding area of the diverticula and can lead to permanent damage. Abscess heals completely after treatment with antibiotics but sometimes it needs to be drained. There are cases in which a tiny little hole develops in diverticula. This hole is actually a perforation of the intestines which lets the pus out of the colon into abdominal cavity. Both an abscess and a perforation may lead to rather severe condition called peritonitis or inflammation of peritoneum. If this happens one must undergo the surgery and the surgeon have to clean the whole abdominal cavity from pus to save patient's life.
One additional complication of diverticulitis is fistula. It is formed when the inflamed part of large intestines comes into contact with nearby skin or organs such as bladder and small intestines. They stick to each other and during the process of healing a small hole develops connecting these organs. This way there is a permanent communication between normally separated organs. Fistulas needs to be surgically repaired.
And finally in rare cases chronic inflammation of diverticula may lead to serious scarring. These scars can lead to obstruction in large intestines not allowing stool to pass normally. In case that obstruction is total one should be surgically treated immediately and in partial obstruction he/ she is just monitored and the correction surgery is done after the attack.