Harvard Men's Health Watch

That pain in your side could be diverticular disease

Fiber and an active lifestyle prevent flare-ups, but act promptly if it hurts or bleeds.

Many men discover they have diverticular disease after a routine colon screening exam to check for hidden colon cancer. Others find out the hard way: intense lower abdominal pain and a fever, and sometimes copious rectal bleeding. What's going on down there, and what can you do about it?

Diverticula are pouchlike structures that form in the muscular wall of the colon. When you have them, it's called diverticulosis, and it is usually harmless. But in some people, the pouches may get inflamed and infected (diverticulitis), or they may bleed. Diverticulitis and diverticular bleeding send around 130,000 Americans to the hospital annually.

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