When small, protruding pouches in the digestive system tear and become irritated, this is known as diverticulitis.
Diverticulitis occurs when small, protruding pouches in the lining of the digestive system – known as diverticula – become irritated, inflamed or both. In most cases, diverticula form in the colon (lower part of the large intestine), but they can form elsewhere along the digestive tract as well.
Diverticula disease which includes the terms diverticulitis and diverticulosis is uncommon in humans under the age of 40. It is thought to be related to poor fiber intake.
The following factors can cause diverticula to tear and contribute to diverticulitis:
- Being on certain medications – including steroids, opiates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – for a long period of time
- Being very overweight or obese
- Eating a diet high in animal fat and low in fiber
- Not getting enough physical activity
Symptoms can be similar to irritable bowel syndrome including:
Adult patients suffering from these symptoms should seek the advice of an adult gastroenterologist.