Diverticula are tiny pouches or weak areas that bulge out from the lining of the wall of your intestine. They look like small thumbs poking out of the side of the intestine. When you have diverticula in your intestines, it is called diverticulosis. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, it is called diverticulitis.
The main cause of diverticula may be too little fiber in the diet. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Fiber helps make stools soft and easy to pass. It helps prevent constipation. When you have constipation, muscles strain to move your bowel movements. The high pressure causes the weak spots in the colon to bulge out and become diverticula. The cause of diverticulitis is not known. It may begin when stool or bacteria is caught in the diverticula.
How can I take care of myself when I go home?
How long it takes to get better depends on your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have. You need to make lifestyle changes to be healthier and to help keep from having diverticulitis in the future. Diverticulitis is usually mild and responds well to medical treatment and lifestyle changes.
Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
Treat or prevent an infection
Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation
Soften stool and reduce straining with a bowel movement
If you have had surgery, to care for your surgical wound:
Keep your surgical wound clean.
If you are told to change your dressing on your surgical wound, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.
If you have belly pain, it may help to put a hot water bottle or heating pad on your stomach. Cover the hot water bottle with a towel or set the heating pad on low so you donâ€™t burn your skin.
Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines.
Eat a healthy diet.
If you have diarrhea, drink liquids and avoid solid foods. Try to rest until the diarrhea stops.
Once you are well, eat regular, healthy meals containing high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Many people find fiber supplements, such as Metamucil, Citrucel, or other psyllium products, to be helpful, but in a few cases they make constipation worse.
Avoid foods that seem to make the pain worse. Foods that are more likely to cause pain are popcorn kernels and other foods that may get stuck in diverticula, such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and nuts. The seeds in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, and raspberries, as well as poppy seeds, are usually harmless. Keeping a food diary may help you remember what you ate a few hours before you had symptoms.
Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have.
Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:
Bloating or pain in your belly
Belly pain that goes away and then comes back worse than it was
Change in bowel habits, such as pain, mucus, diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal problems
Blood in your bowel movement
Nausea or vomiting
Signs of infection. These include:
The area around your surgical wound is more red, painful, or very warm to touch
You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from your surgical wound or a sore near your rectum
You have a fever higher than 101.5Â° F (38.6Â° C)
You have chills or muscle aches
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-12-19 Last reviewed: 2014-11-20
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Diverticulitis Discharge Information: References
Ferri, F. (2015). Diverticular Disease (Diverticulosis, Diverticulitis). Ferriâ€™s Clinical Advisor 2015, 385-385.e1. Philadelphia: Elsevier Mosby. Retrieved from http://www.clinicalkey.com.
Feldman, M, Friedman, L, & Brandt, L. (2010). Sleisenger and Fordtran’s gastrointestinal and liver disease [9th ed.]. Retrieved from http://www.mdconsult.com/.