What Is Diverticular Disease?

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Diverticular disease consists of three conditions that involve the development of small sacs or pockets in the wall of the colon, including diverticulosis, diverticular bleeding, and diverticulitis. Diverticulosis Diverticulosis is the formation of numerous tiny pockets, or diverticula, in the lining of the bowel. Diverticula, which can range from pea-size to much larger, are formed by increased pressure on weakened spots of the intestinal walls by gas, waste, or liquid. Diverticula can form while straining during a bowel movement, such as with constipation. They are most common in the lower portion of the large intestine (called the sigmoid colon). Diverticulosis is very common and occurs in 10% of people over age 40 and in 50% of people over age 60. Most people will have no or few symptoms from diverticula. Complications can occur in about 20% of people with diverticulosis. One of these complications is rectal bleeding, called diverticular bleeding, and another is diverticular infection, called diverticulitis. Diverticular Bleeding Diverticular bleeding occurs with chronic injury to the small blood vessels that are next to the diverticula. Diverticulitis Diverticulitis occurs when there is inflammation and infection in one or more diverticula. This usually happens when outpouchings become blocked with waste, allowing bacteria to build up, causing infection. Keyword: diverticula; diverticular disease