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Diverticula are small, bulging pouches that can form in the lining of your digestive system. They are found most often in the lower part of the large intestine (colon). Diverticula are common, especially after age 40, and seldom cause problems.
Sometimes, however, one or more of the pouches become inflamed or infected. That condition is known as diverticulitis (die-vur-tik-yoo-LIE-tis). Diverticulitis can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea and a marked change in your bowel habits.
Mild diverticulitis can be treated with rest, changes in your diet and antibiotics. Severe or recurring diverticulitis may require surgery.
Diverticula usually develop when naturally weak places in your colon give way under pressure. This causes marble-sized pouches to protrude through the colon wall.
Diverticulitis occurs when diverticula tear, resulting in inflammation or infection or both.
The signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include:
- Pain, which may be constant and persist for several days. Pain is usually felt in the lower left side of the abdomen, but may occur on the right, especially in people of Asian descent.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal tenderness.
- Constipation or, less commonly, diarrhea.