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Diverticulitis Specialist

Diverticulitis Specialist

About Diverticulitis services offered in Merrifield and Fair Oaks, Fairfax, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge and Lansdowne, VA

Diverticulitis symptoms range from mild nausea to severe cramping abdominal pain and rectal bleeding that require surgical attention. The board-certified colorectal surgeons at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, create personalized treatment plans that clear your current symptoms and help prevent future bouts of this common bowel disorder. Schedule an evaluation today by calling the office in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia, or use their convenient online service to request an appointment.

Diverticulitis Q & A

What is diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis occurs when small pouch-like bulges (diverticula) that form along the ordinarily smooth inner walls of the large intestine (colon) become inflamed and infected.

If you develop one or more diverticula, you have diverticulosis, which can develop anywhere in the large intestine but is most common in the sigmoid colon. This S-shaped portion of the colon lies in the lower left abdomen.

Nearly everyone has diverticulosis by age 80. However, not everyone with diverticulosis develops the infection and inflammation that characterize diverticulitis.

What causes diverticulitis?

Scientists believe that diverticulosis is related to low fiber diets and other issues that trigger frequent constipation. Over time, this strains the walls of the colon and causes pressure that weakens the colonic wall, leading to diverticulosis. 

Once you have diverticulosis, stool and bacteria passing through the colon can become trapped within the bulging diverticula. This causes inflammation and infection that may eventually perforate the intestinal wall.   

Factors that increase your risk of diverticulitis include:

  • Excess weight
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Poor hydration
  • High fat, low fiber diet
  • Age (over 40)

Prolonged use of certain medications, including nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, also increase your risk of diverticulitis.  

What are the symptoms of diverticulitis?

Pain is the most common sign of diverticulitis. The discomfort often occurs first in the lower left abdomen but may spread as the inflammation and infection worsen. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Foul-smelling or bloody discharge from the rectum

You may also notice an urge to urinate or move your bowels more frequently due to building pressure from inflammation and swelling. 

How do you treat diverticulitis?

Depending on your symptoms, your Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC provider may recommend CT imaging or a colonoscopy to accurately diagnose the source of your discomfort.

Mild to moderate diverticulitis usually responds well to oral antibiotics for the infection and a clear liquid diet to rest the bowels and decrease inflammation. Severe diverticulitis may require hospitalization and intravenous (IV) antibiotics.

If you don’t respond well to conservative management, laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to remove infected portions of the colon.

Schedule an evaluation at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC today for more information about diverticulitis and steps you can take to prevent future occurrences. Call the nearest office or request an appointment online.

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