A diverticulum (if there is more than one they are known as diverticulae), is a protrusion of the intestine’s inner lining which form pockets that develop in the colon wall. Diverticulosis describes the presence of these pockets. Diverticulitis is an infection of the diverticula and when these pockets become inflamed symptoms can include pain in the abdomen, chills/ fever and a change in bowel habit.
Some people are born with a diverticulum/ diverticulae; however most diverticulum/ diverticulae develop during life and become more common with age. About half the people in the UK have diverticulae by the age of 50 and nearly three quarters by the age of 80.
The cause of diverticulae isn’t precisely known, but it is believed to be linked to diet. It is thought that eating a diet which lacks fibre over a number of years causes the muscle of the bowel to work harder. This creates an increased pressure inside the colon and results in these little pockets being ‘blown out’.
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Mrs Jane Jenner, Warwickshire, April 2011