How Is a Diagnosis Made?
Since symptoms related to diverticulosis are usually mild, this particular form of diverticular disease often remains undiagnosed until image or rectal-related testing is done for another reason. With diverticulitis, there is typically a need to rule out other conditions that can produce similar symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcers.
Diagnosis of either form of diverticular disease may involve ultrasound scans, CT scans, and similar types of image tests, a discussion of bowel habits, a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, and a barium enema. Blood tests may also be done to look for signs of infection. If rectal bleeding is the main symptom, an angiography may be done to determine the source of the bleeding.
What Are Treatment Options?
Diverticulosis not producing symptoms may not require any treatment other than regular observation during routine exams. However, patients are often encouraged to consider a high-fiber diet. Diverticulitis may be treated with IV antibiotics if there is an infection present. While an active infection exists, a patient may be advised to reduce fiber intake and drink more water. Fiber can then be reintroduced after the infection has cleared up.
Abscesses may be drained with a needle. If the infection is severe, surgery may be necessary to remove part of the colon or remove multiple abscesses. Surgery is also typically needed if peritonitis has developed and spread to the abdominal cavity.
The most effective way to reduce the possibility of developing diverticular disease is to practice good bowel hygiene. This generally involves avoiding excessive bowel straining, making healthy diet choices to reduce issues with constipation, getting regular exercise, and drinking sufficient water daily. With fiber intake, the standard recommendation is 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day.