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Diverticular Disease


Diverticula are extremely common with 2 out of 3 people developing diverticula during their lifetime.  It is unclear what causes the diverticula although they are more common after the age of 40. They are diagnosed during an investigation using a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy. Most people with diverticula will never have any symptoms and will carry on with their lives as normal.

Here are some of the many terms used with this condition:

  • Diverticulum is a small pouch in the wall of the colon
  • Diverticula refers to when you have more than one of these pouches
  • Diverticulitis is when one or more of these pouches becomes infected
  • Diverticulosis simply means that you have some of these pouches
  • Diverticular Disease means that you have some of these pouches along with symptoms but the pouches are not infected

Contrary to previous advice, it is now recommended that patients eat plenty of fibre and do not avoid nuts, seeds, wholegrains, or skins and pips of fruit and vegetables.  In fact, evidence now shows that people with a low fibre diet may be more likely to develop the condition.

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment if:

  • you are not improving with treatment
  • new onset gut symptoms
  • unexplained weight loss
  • blood in your stool
  • waking up at night to open your bowels