The symptom occuring most frequently in diverticulitis is abdominal pain.
Tenderness around the left side of the lower abdomen is one of most common signs.
In case of infection the following symptoms may be observed:
Diverticulitis can lead to the following complications:
- Bleeding - This complicationdoesn't occur often. It may lead to the appearance of blood in the toilet or in your stool. It is believed that bleeding diverticula are the result of a weakening diverticulum that has bursted. Go see a doctor f you bleed from the rectum. Surgery may be necessary in case of severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn't stop.
- Abscess - Infections are usually treated with antibiotics. If the infection gets worse an abcess may start developing in the colon.
An abscess is a localized infected pocket filled with pus.
- Perforations - When the infection destroys tissue and develops small holes (perforations) pus is allowed to leak out of the colon into the abdominal area.
If the abscess is small and remains in the colon, it may clear up after treatment with antibiotics. If the abscess does not clear up with antibiotics, the doctor may need to drain it.
To drain the abscess, the doctor uses a needle and a small tube called a catheter. The doctor inserts the needle through the skin and drains the fluid through the catheter. This procedure is called percutaneous catheter drainage. Sometimes surgery is needed to clean the abscess and, if necessary, remove part of the colon.
- Peritonitis - If the pus in the abscess starts leaking outside the colon a potentially fatal situation may develop. Infection of the abdominal cavity is called peritonitis. Surgery is required to immediately clean the abdominal cavity and remove the damaged section of the colon. If left untreated peritonitis may be deadly.
- Fistulas - This is an abnormal connection between two organs or between an organ and the outside of the body (skin), caused when damaged tissues come into contact with each other and stick together while healing.
In case of diverticulitis, the infection may spread outwards of the colon. The colon's tissue can start sticking to surrounding tissues. Organs like the bladder, small intestine and skin are most frequently involved in this complication.
Fistulas between the bladder and the colon are common, they affect men more than women. This can lead to urinary tract infection problems. Surgery is needed to the fistula and the infected section of the colon.
- Intestinal Obstruction - If the infection leads to scarring it may also cause blockage of the intestine. Total blockage will make it impossible for the colon to pass stool normally, surgery is required immediately. With a partial blockage stool can still move through the intestines, so while surgery is necessary, it's not an emergency situation.