published Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Ask a doctor: At my last colonoscopy, I was told I have diverticulosis. What is that?

By Dr. Eric Nelson

Q: At my last colonoscopy, I was told I have diverticulosis. What is that?

A: Diverticulosis is a common condition characterized by small out-pouchings, or diverticula, in the colon. The segment of colon in the left, lower abdomen is most frequently affected. A diet low in fiber and high in red meat, refined flours and sugars is linked with the development of diverticulosis. This is likely due to higher pressures within the colon associated with this diet along with other factors such as inflammation and genetic tendencies. Diverticulosis alone is not concerning. However, the diverticula can rupture, causing infection in the abdomen. This is called diverticulitis. A healthy diet high in fiber, fruits and vegetables can decrease the risk of developing diverticulosis. Once formed, the diverticula are unlikely to regress, but a healthy diet might decrease the risk of diverticulitis. There is no need to restrict the intake of seeds, nuts and berries. If you develop abdominal pain, especially when accompanied by fever, see a physician immediately.

— Dr. Eric Nelson, University Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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