Most people with diverticular disease never experience symptoms.
When symptoms do appear, they range widely in severity, depending on the extent of the inflammation or infection of the pouches, and the possible complications that may occur.
The most common symptoms are:
Pain in the abdomen, usually on the lower left side, ranging from slight tenderness to severe pain
Cramps and bloating
Diarrhea or constipation
Bleeding with the stools
If infection develops in a pouch (diverticulitis), a person may also experience:
Fever or chills
The release of pus and mucus from the rectum
Nice To Know:
Q: Does diverticular disease increase the chance of later developing colon cancer?
A: No, diverticular disease doesn't seem to increase the risk for colon cancer. But the symptoms of colon cancer can be quite similar to those of diverticular disease. Cancer and diverticula often look alike on CT scans (CT stands for Computed Tomography, a type of x-ray that shows the condition of soft tissue).
So anyone suspected of having diverticular disease based on the findings of a CT scan should have a colonoscopy to rule out colon cancer. If no cancer is found, people with diverticular disease should undergo the same schedule of colon cancer screening as the general population.
Other Conditions With Similar Symptoms
It is important to see a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of diverticular disease, in order to identify the cause. There are several other conditions that may present similar symptoms:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Appendicitis (typically causes pain on the lower right side of the abdomen, distinguished from diverticular disease where pain is experienced usually on the lower left side)
Colon or bowel cancer
Ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition of the colon
The presence of a foreign body in the intestines
Fibroid tumors in women (noncancerous tumors of the uterus)