Diverticulitis – Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Newly diagnosed with diverticulitis? It can be alarming to experience sudden abdominal pain and the other symptoms that come with this condition. We're here to help you understand your diagnosis and navigate the treatment options, from simple home care to possible surgical interventions.

As we age, it isn’t uncommon to form outpouching in the colon called diverticula.  These tend to occur on the left side of the colon, and likely form because our diets lack fibre. For the vast majority of individuals, diverticulosis (the presence of diverticula), will cause no symptoms or disease throughout their lifetime.

What is diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis (commonly misspelled as diverticules) occurs when one of these outpouchings gets blocked by a piece of stool.  As the pressure increases, it pops like a balloon.  For most people, our body can seal the hole quite quickly leading to more mild symptoms, but on occasion, emergency surgery is required to deal with the hole in the colon.

A 3D medical illustration showing a segment of the intestines with diverticula, highlighting the condition known as diverticulitis with inflamed and swollen pockets.

Symptoms of diverticulitis

The symptoms often lead to visit to the emergency department and the diagnosis is made with the aid of a CT scan.

An endoscopic view of the inside of a colon affected by diverticulosis, showing multiple small outpouchings (diverticula) in the intestinal lining.


The treatment of diverticulitis is dictated by the severity.  Uncomplicated diverticulitis is often treated with bowel rest and antibiotics, and can often be managed outside the hospital.

For individuals with severe diverticular disease or those experiencing complications, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary. If an abscess develops, a drainage procedure may be required.  Occasionally, emergency surgery is required.

A medical consultation in progress, with a female doctor attentively listening to a male patient while holding medical records, possibly discussing preventive health measures.

For recurrent or complicated disease, elective surgery is sometimes necessary.  Please ask your physician to refer to the North York Colorectal Group for a personalized discussion about your diverticulitis.