Diverticula are small outpockets of the bowel that have formed as a result of weaknesses in the bowel wall muscles. These pockets, called diverticula, are generally asymptomatic and go unnoticed. Having these pockets in the bowel is referred to as diverticulosis, and affects 50% of North Americans over age 60. In advanced cases the diverticula can be so profuse that they start to cause problems with stool motility. This can lead to abnormal defecation, bloating, and abdominal pain. Occasionally, a diverticulum becomes infected, which is referred to as diverticulitis. This condition varies from fairly benign to being an emergency. The least serious cases don’t require treatment, while the most severe require emergency surgical removal of the affected part of the bowel.
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