Diverticula are small pouches that form inside of the colon, as stated by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. These pouches are weakened areas of the colon that bulge out into the surrounding area. Inflammation of the diverticula is called diverticulitis.
Diverticula appear mostly in the lower part of the large intestine and are common in individuals over the age of 40, as explained by Mayo Clinic. Physicians are not sure what causes diverticula to form, but many believe it is directly related to a lack of fiber in the patient's diet, as claimed by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Fiber, which is available in fruits and vegetables, remains in the colon and absorbs water. This absorption makes bowel movements easier to pass. Diets that are low in fiber often cause constipation, which leads to muscles straining to pass stool. Doctors believe this straining causes diverticula to form.
Remnants of stool or bacteria caught in the weak areas of diverticula result in a condition known as diverticulitis, states Mayo Clinic. Rest, antibiotics and a modified diet cure mild cases of this condition. Severe cases of diverticulitis require hospitalization and possibly surgery.