By age 60, about 40% of people have diverticular disease, a
condition characterized by protruding pouches on the colon. It's
thought that a low-fiber diet, obesity, and lack of exercise
contribute to the disease. Of those with diverticulosis,
30% will develop more serious forms of the disease, including
diverticulitis (infected and inflamed diverticula) and
diverticular bleeding (bleeding from a blood vessel near a
diverticulum). It's unclear why some people develop these
problems and others do not. Most diverticulitis can be treated
with medications and rest, but 25% of cases lead to complications
requiring surgery, including perforation of the colon,
peritonitis (infection of the abdominal cavity), bowel
obstruction, abscess, and fistula (an abnormal connection between
the colon and nearby tissue).
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