How is diverticulitis treated?

Once you are diagnosed with diverticulitis you will need to be treated with antibiotics. Once you are recovered, your doctor might recommend that you have a colonoscopy. You will also be advised to consume a high-fiber diet.
Diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics, says Joseph Thornton, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he says that diverticulitis used to require surgery.

Depending upon the severity of the episode, treatment of an attack of diverticulitis may require management as an outpatient or inpatient. Affected individuals may only be able to tolerate an altered diet and there may be the need to temporarily modify their diet to include predominantly liquids or low-residue food-stuffs. Oral or intravenous antibiotics are also usually administered. Some complications of diverticulitis and severe attacks may need surgery.

Philip E. Tanner, MD
Diverticulitis, inflammation of the diverticula (pouches in the intestine), is treated differently depending on severity. Home treatment, used for non-severe cases, is when the patient rests at home and consumes a liquid only diet for three days. Then the patient will gradually add high fiber foods to the diet, such as wheat, fruits, and vegetables. Antibiotics are also typically prescribed to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Sometimes, hospitalization is required for treatment. This is for patients who have a severe case and are at risk for bowel obstruction, peritonitis, or complication such as an abscess. IV or oral antibiotics are given. If an abscess is present, it may need to be drained, so the patient will undergo a CT guided needle aspiration of the abscess. After remission is achieved, the patient may need to have a bowel resection, especially if this is a recurring problem.
Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Treatment of diverticulitis involves a liquid diet to let the bowel rest and antibiotic therapy to clear the infection. After the immediate inflammation has stabilized, patients switch to a steady high-fiber diet to help prevent flare-ups. Although patients are often advised to avoid nuts and seeds, there is no scientific support for this recommendation. Surgery may be required for complicated or recurrent diverticulitis.

A doctor may prescribe antibiotics and recommend following a liquid diet. Most people get better with this treatment. Some people may need surgery and other treatments.

Surgery: Serious problems from diverticulitis are treated with surgery. Surgeons can clean the abdomen after infections and remove bleeding pouches and fistulas. Colon resection: If you get diverticulitis many times, your doctor might suggest taking out the part of the colon with diverticula. Healthy sections can be joined together. With the diverticula gone, you may avoid other infections. Emergency surgery: If you have severe problems, you may need emergency surgery to clear the infection and remove the part of the colon. Later, the second surgery rejoins the healthy sections of the colon. The colon is separated for a brief time between surgeries because rejoining the colon during the first surgery is not always safe. A temporary colostomy is needed between the two surgeries. A colostomy is an opening made on the abdomen where a plastic bag is connected to collect stool after food is digested. The surgeon makes the opening, called a stoma, and connects it to the end of the colon.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Continue Learning about Diverticulitis

What are the symptoms of diverticulosis?
American Society for Gastrointestinal EndoscopyAmerican Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Most people who have diverticulosis are unaware that they have the condition because it usually does...
More Answers
What increases my risk for diverticulitis?
William B. Salt II., MDWilliam B. Salt II., MD
Aging, diet, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and drugs.AGING About one of every three Americans ...
More Answers
How Is Diverticulosis Treated?
How Is Diverticulosis Treated?
How Diverticulitis Nearly Killed Iyanla Vanzant
How Diverticulitis Nearly Killed Iyanla Vanzant

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.