Diverticulosis: Care Instructions

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In diverticulosis, pouches called diverticula form in the wall of the large intestine (colon). The pouches do not cause any pain or other symptoms. Most people who have diverticulosis do not know they have it.

If diverticulosis causes problems, the pouches may:

  • Bleed (diverticular bleeding).
  • Become infected (diverticulitis).

Diverticula form when pressure pushes the wall of the colon outward at certain weak points. A diet that is too low in fiber can cause diverticula.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Include fruits, leafy green vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
  • Take a fiber supplement (such as Citrucel or Metamucil) every day if needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Walking is a good choice. You also may want to do other activities, such as running, swimming, cycling, or playing tennis or team sports.
  • Cut out foods that cause gas, pain, or other symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • You have diarrhea or constipation.
  • You have unusual changes in your bowel movements.
  • You have bloating.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.