ELi5: Diverticulitis


I’ve had 2 friends go to the hospital for this, but googling it reads like it’s just random stomach pain… What is it for real?

In: 5

Essentially, the lining on the intestines wears down and can result in a rupture. In these cases, fecal matter can result in a septic situation which can be fatal.

My father experienced a severe case of this, which almost killed him.

Feels like you’re constantly full and strain to take a shit. Doesn’t feel the worst until it blows your intestine out.

I spent a month in the hospital, got 10 inches of my colon removed, appendix out since they were in there anyway, 6 months with a colostomy bag and another 2 weeks in the hospital after getting the bag removed.

basically, the lining of the intestines develops little tiny bubble shaped pockets called diverticules that materials get stuck in. So instead of the food just passing through the intestines, bits of food get trapped in these pockets, and can cause irritation and infections.

This is made worse if you eat foods with little seeds or other hard to digest bits. Raspberries, strawberries, chia seeds, can all cause problems because of the tiny seeds. So can corn, beans, or other foods that don’t get fully digested.

It is an infection caused by pockets in your large intestine. The pockets or pouches are caused by weak points in the instestine and these are present in a large percentage of people after a certain age. Its called diverticulosis when infection isn’t present. It’s a problem when fecal matter is trapped in them and causes frequent infections.

I have had some infections which cause pain in my lower abdomen and back. I don’t get them very frequently, so I don’t need surgery so far.

If your colonoscopy was normal, you most likely don’t have the condition, because they can see the holes leading to the pouches during the colonoscopy.


Do you ever chew chewing gum? Do you know how to [blow a bubble](https://penfieldbuildingblocks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/the-bubblegum-song.jpg)?

You kind of flatten the gum, and then force air on a certain spot to make a little pocket, and kind of inflate that pocket. Right?

The walls of the colon can get weak over time. Still with me?

Now imagine yourself sitting on the toilet, bearing down, trying to push out a poop. You’re creating pressure inside the colon! Just like you create pressure in your mouth to blow a bubble.

So if the wall of the colon is too weak in a certain spot, when there is pressure in the colon, [a little bubble may form](https://uihc.org/sites/default/files/styles/large__900x600_/public/figure2_diverticulitis-final.jpg).

See those little bubbles? Those are almost just like making chewing gum bubbles. There’s pressure inside, and the material is weak, and so the pressure causes the bubble to “inflate”.

Ok so now you have these bubbles, but that alone isn’t really bad.

What happens when a sesame seed gets stuck in one of those bubbles?

Sometimes, the bubble will get food lodged in there, and the food may rot, or the bubble may get red and inflamed, and then an INFECTION starts.

When that happens, that can be painful. If it gets too bad, the bubble may RUPTURE and then you have poop contents floating around inside your abdomen, and that is VERY bad and can lead to death.

Sometimes you can get the infection to go away with antibiotics.

That’s why it’s good to have a LOT of FIBER in your diet. Fiber usually means you don’t have to push as hard. Not pushing as hard means you are less likely to develop those bubbles.