Symptoms and Types of Diverticulitis

Your diagnosis of diverticulitis will be classified as either a mild or severe case.

Most individuals who have a mild case often do not exhibit any symptoms other than bloating and cramping in the lower part of the belly. You may notice blood in your stool or on toilet paper; however, this is quite rare.

The symptoms typically noticed are much more severe and usually begin out of the blue; they also may worsen over the course of a few days. The more severe symptoms include tenderness or pain in the stomach (usually on the left lower side of the abdomen), constipation, uncomfortable bloating or gas, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite. Diarrhea can occur, however, it not very common.

Although most people do not experience severe episodes of the disorder, about 25% of people with acute diverticulitis develop complications, which may include an abscess, a blockage in the colon, an abnormal passageway (fistula) or peritonitis, which can occur if the infected or inflamed pouch ruptures, spilling intestinal contents into your abdominal cavity. If you experience a severe episode or complications of diverticulitis, you will need to be hospitalized.

“Be aware of changes in your body. It is not normal to live with constant abdominal or chest pain, have blood in your stool or experience sudden, unintentional weight loss,” said Catherine Mulvale, executive director of the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. “These symptoms may signal a need to visit your physician.”

There are three different diverticular diseases with which you can be diagnosed:

  • Diverticulosis, which is the formation of numerous tiny pockets, or diverticula, in the lining of the bowel. Very common, it occurs in 50% of people over age 60 and usually has few or no symptoms;
  • Diverticular bleeding occurs with injury to the small blood vessels next to the diverticula;
  • Diverticulitis, an infection and inflammation of diverticula that can occur suddenly and without warning. According to WebMD, symptoms may include alternate diarrhea and constipation, panful cramps or tenderness in the lower abdomen and chills or fever.

Lisa Cantkier, CHN is a certified holistic nutritionist and a health and wellness editor.

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