Colon Diverticulosis Signs and Symptoms

Diverticula usually cause clinical symptoms if they become infected or inflamed, a condition called diverticulitis. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 people having diverticula will develop an episode of diverticulitis at some point in life. Signs and symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Constant abdominal pain mostly evident in the left lower part of the belly
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Blood in the stools

In some cases of diverticulitis, the condition may get worse and serious complications can occur, some of which may even be life-threatening. Possible complications are:

  • Bleeding; usually abrupt, painless and self-limited. Infrequently, the bleeding can be massive requiring hospitalization and blood transfusion.
  • Intraabdominal abscess and purulent peritonitis; sometimes, a collection of pus may form around the site of the infected diverticulum (abscess). Infection can also spread to the rest of the abdominal cavity which fills with pus (purulent peritonitis).
  • Perforation and faecal peritonitis; in more severe cases, the inflamed diverticulum will rupture forming a hole in the wall of the bowel through which free air and faeces from the intestine are released inside the abdominal cavity.
  • Bowel obstruction and fistula; diverticulitis may sometimes cause blockage of the large intestine. Communications/channels between the colon and other neighboring organs called fistulas can also form.