This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Diverticulitis.

What is diverticulitis?

With diverticulitis, the intestines are sick. The intestine is an organ in the abdomen. The intestine is like a long tube. The food is digested in the intestine.

The intestine is an organ in the abdomen. The intestine consists of the small intestine and the large intestine.

© W & B / Dr. Ulrike Möhle

The intestine has an intestinal wall around the outside. The intestinal wall can be thin in some places. Therefore, it can wear out or bulge. The bulges are called: diverticula. Diverticula are mostly harmless. But sometimes the diverticula can become inflamed. Do the diverticula become inflamed? Then the doctor says: diverticulitis.

Sometimes diverticulitis can be dangerous. For example, the tissue around the intestines can become inflamed. Then pus may form. The purulent places are called: abscess.

How can you recognize diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis causes various symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the lower left part of the abdomen
  • Flatulence
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • constipation

Do you have these complaints? Then go to the doctor. The doctor will examine you and give you all the important information.

What are the causes of diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is usually found in older people. The connective tissue becomes weaker with age. The intestinal wall can then wear out. Diverticula can develop in the thin areas. The diverticula can become inflamed. But that rarely happens.

Some things increase your risk of diverticulitis. These include, for example:

  • chronic constipation
  • Obesity
  • Too little movement
  • too much red meat like beef or pork

What can you do about diverticulitis?

Do you have abdominal pain? Then talk to a doctor. The doctor will examine you and give you all the important information.

The inflammation is easy? You do not have a fever and also no immune deficiency? Then the body can often fight diverticulitis itself. The doctor may then say: You should drink a lot. This makes the stool soft and allows it to get past the inflamed areas better. The bowel movement is then less painful. You should also eat well-tolerated foods for a while. The doctor will examine you at regular intervals.

Is the inflammation stronger? Then you might be given antibiotics. Antibiotics are drugs for the disease.

Is the inflammation severe? Then you may have to go to the hospital. Sometimes an operation is necessary. But that rarely happens.

Has the diverticulitis healed? Then the doctor will usually check you again. A colonoscopy may also be necessary. A colonoscopy examines your bowel with a camera.

How can you avoid diverticulitis?

Everyone can do something against diverticula themselves. Here are some ways to avoid diverticulitis:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. It's best to eat five servings a day.
  • Eat whole grain products like whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta.
  • Eat little red meat. Red meat includes pork or beef.
  • It is best to drink two liters of water a day. You can also drink unsweetened tea.

Warning: Some people with heart disease or kidney disease are only allowed to drink a certain amount. These people should therefore speak to their doctor beforehand.

  • Exercise regularly. For example, go for a walk for half an hour a day.
  • Maintain a normal body weight.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about diverticulitis? You can find more information about diverticulitis here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: This text only contains general information. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.