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Understanding Diverticulitis - General Surgery

Fever, abdominal pain and constipation, these could be signs of a common diagnosis called diverticulitis. “Diverticulitis comes from diverticulum, so diverticulum is an outpouching or a sac that is on an organ. With diverticulitis, we’re most commonly talking about the colon. It can develop anywhere, but it most commonly develops in that lower portion of the colon—that’s why they have left lower abdominal pain,” explained Dr. Lindsay Berbiglia, a general surgeon with Lee Health. About 80 percent of people in the United States have diverticulum by the time they are 80. “About 10 to 20 percent of those people will get diverticulitis or symptoms related to their diverticulum over their lifetime,” she said. Once a patient starts developing symptoms, it’s time they see their doctor. "Untreated diverticulitis, especially if it leads to an abscess, can be life-threatening. It can cause sepsis or full-body, infection, and failure,” said Dr. Berbiglia. While the exact cause is unclear—doctors say there are things patients can do to lower their risk for developing diverticulitis. "Healthy diets that are high in fruits and vegetables, high in brown grains, and high in fiber. Unfortunately, in the United States, we have a higher rate of diverticulum and diverticulitis, and it’s been increasing over the last 50 to 75 years, effecting now young people,” she said. Diverticulitis can be diagnosed using a colonoscopy—if caught early doctors can avoid surgery and prescribe an antibiotic to help with the pain. Making it important to recognize and address any new symptoms. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care. Visit