diverticulosis, a disorder characterized by the presence of diverticula, which are small, usually multiple saclike protrusions through the wall of the colon (large intestine). Diverticula usually do not cause symptoms unless they become inflamed, in which case the condition is called diverticulitis. Symptoms of diverticulitis vary and may include abdominal pain, fever, bleeding, and diarrhea or constipation. Treatment includes bed rest, antibiotics, and a soft diet.
Diverticulosis becomes more common as people grow older, and it is estimated that more than 50% of people in Western countries acquire the condition by age 80. Many physicians believe that lack of fiber or bulk in the diet is a contributing factor in diverticulosis.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.