Diverticular disease or diverticulitis?

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Diverticular disease is perhaps more common than we may think and between one-third and a half of the population of Western Europe and North America will suffer with diverticula in the colon during their lifetime.  Most people who experience diverticula do not suffer any symptoms or complications and it is reported that as many as three people out of four with diverticula do not even know that they have the condition at all.

What is diverticular disease?

Diverticulum is a Latin term meaning a side-branch or pouch. When such pouches stick outwards from the wall of the large intestine (also known as the colon) we call this diverticular disease. It can be hard to understand how these pouches occur but try to imagine your large intestine as being similar to a bicycle tyre with a soft easily stretched inner tube and a tough outer tube. If a hole is made in the outer tube, when the inner tube inflates, it squeezes out through the hole. Like the tyre, our intestine has a soft flexible lining surrounded by a tougher outer tube of muscle. There may not be a hole in the outer tube as such but where there is a weakness in the muscle, the inner layer can push through it to form the pouch that we call a diverticulum. The term diverticula is used when there is more than one diverticulum in the bowel.

What is the difference between diverticular disease and diverticulitis?

Diverticular disease is a term mainly used in people who develop symptoms. You may hear the term ‘diverticulitis’ which strictly means the condition that occurs when a single diverticulum or several diverticula become inflamed.

Why do so many people suffer with the condition?

The reason that so many people suffer with diverticular disease or diverticulitis us thought to almost certainly relate to our diet. As we eat far less fibre in the western diet than people in developing countries, hence the reason that Western Europe and North America have higher chances of developing the disease.

The above information has been sourced from http://www.bsg.org.uk/


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