Diverticulosis also known as "diverticular disease" is the condition of having diverticula in the colon, which are outpocketings of the colonic mucosa and submucosa through weaknesses of muscle layers in the colon wall. These are more common in the sigmoid colon, which is a common place for increased pressure. This is uncommon before the age of 40, and increases in incidence after that age. Cramps and tenderness in the affected areas. Most people with colonic diverticulosis are unaware of this structural change. When symptoms do appear in a person over 40 years of age it is important to obtain medical advice and exclude more dangerous conditions such as cancer of the colon or rectum.
The clinical forms of colonic diverticulosis are:-
Symptomatic colonic diverticulosis- This is the most common complication of colonic diverticulosis. This is when the motility (that is, the onward propulsive nature of contractions) of the bowel becomes disorganized. Sometimes, spasm can develop. This results in pain in the left lower abdomen and often is accompanied by the passage of small pellet-like stools and slime which relieves the pain. Symptoms can consist of (1) bloating, (2) changes in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation), (3) Non-specific chronic discomfort in the lower left abdomen, with occasional acute episodes of sharper pain, (4) abdominal pain, often in the left lower abdomen and/or after meals. If these persist clinical investigation is advised.
Complicated colonic diverticulosis. This is very uncommon but highly dangerous. The diverticulae may bleed, either rapidly (causing bleeding through the rectum) or slowly (causing anaemia). The diverticulae can become infected and develop abscesses, or even perforate. These are serious complications and medical care is needed. Infected diverticulae and development of abscesses merits the term diverticulitis. First time bleeding from the rectum, especially in individuals aged over age 40, could be due to colon cancer, colonic polyps and inflammatory bowel disease rather than diverticulosis and requires clinical investigation.