Symptoms & Causes of Diverticular Disease
What are the symptoms of diverticular disease?
Symptoms of diverticular disease depend on whether diverticula—pouches in the wall of the colon—lead to chronic symptoms of diverticula, diverticular bleeding, or diverticulitis. Most people first notice symptoms when they develop complications, such as diverticular bleeding or diverticulitis.
Chronic symptoms of diverticula
Some people have chronic symptoms related to diverticula, even when diverticulitis is not present. Chronic symptoms may include
Other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, cause similar symptoms, so having these symptoms may not mean you have diverticular disease. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor.
Diverticulitis may cause acute symptoms such as
- abdominal pain, most often in the lower left side of your abdomen
- constipation or diarrhea
- fevers and chills
- nausea or vomiting
The pain caused by diverticulitis is typically severe and comes on suddenly, although the pain may also be mild and worsen over several days. The intensity of the pain may change over time.
What causes diverticular disease?
Doctors aren’t sure what causes diverticular disease. Experts think the following factors may play a role in causing or increasing the risk for this disease.
Research suggests that certain genes may make some people more likely to develop diverticular disease.
Certain lifestyle factors may increase the risk of diverticulitis or complications of diverticular disease, including
- diets low in fiber and high in red meat
- lack of physical activity
- medicines such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids
Scientists are studying other factors that may play a role in diverticular disease. These factors include
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.