What Causes Diverticula?

As of 2015, the exact cause of diverticula is unknown. Constipation due to eating a diet low in fiber can cause increased pressure in the colon as the stool moves along, which can lead to the formation of diverticula, according to Healthline.

Diverticula are bulging pouches that primarily develop in the lower part of the colon, particularly after age 40, as Mayo Clinic notes. Doctors do not completely understand what leads to the formation of these pouches, but the prevailing understanding is that they form due to high pressure pushing against weak colon walls, as WebMD explains.

Factors that increase the risk of developing diverticulitis include eating a diet low in fiber and high in animal fat, obesity, smoking and lack of exercise. The development of diverticula also increases with age as well as taking medications such as opiates, steroids, ibuprofen and naproxen, according to Mayo Clinic.

A sudden pain on the lower left side of the abdomen that worsens with time is the primary symptom, notes Healthline. Other symptoms include bloating, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding and vomiting. While diagnosing the condition, doctors ask their patients about their symptoms and medical history. They also perform physical examinations and blood tests to check for abdominal pain and whether the patient's white blood cell counts are normal.

Treatments include bed rest, taking acetaminophen and prescription antibiotics, and eating a liquid diet to allow diverticula to heal. For certain cases, a doctor may also recommend surgery to remove areas of the digestive tract infected with the diverticula, explains Healthline.