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Diverticulitis

  • Definition

    Diverticulitis is small, bulging sacs or pouches of the inner lining of the intestine (diverticulosis) that become inflamed or infected. Most often, these pouches are in the large intestine (colon).


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    No one knows exactly what causes the sacs, or pouches of diverticulosis to form. Eating a low-fiber diet is one of the most likely causes.

    People who eat mostly processed food, as many Americans eat, do not get enough fiber in their diet. Processed foods include white rice, white bread, most breakfast cereals, crackers, and pretzels.

    As a result, constipation and hard stools are more likely to occur - causing people to strain when passing stools. This increases the pressure in the colon or intestines and may cause these pouches to form.

    Diverticulosis is very common. It is found in more than half of Americans over age 60. Only a small number of these people will develop diverticulitis.

    Diverticulitis is caused by small pieces of stool (feces) that become trapped in these pouches, causing infection or inflammation.