Can you make the diagnosis?

Helen is getting ready to leave for her Bridge group when she starts having lower left abdominal pain.  She takes some Tylenol and heads out anyway, as it does not seem that bad.

During the day she notices her appetite is off, and she feels slightly nauseated.  She is able to drink tea and have some toast but doesn’t want anything else to eat.

That night, she wakes up with worse pain.  She checks her temperature and it is 99.9 F.

What does Helen have?

  1.  Diverticulitis
  2.  Appendicitis
  3.  Cholecystitis
  4.  Urinary tract infection


If you guessed 1.  Diverticulitis, you are right!

Diverticulitis is caused when little pouches form on our intestine over time, called diverticula  Food or poop can get stuck in the pouches, causing infection.  Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, and fever.  Blood in the stool can occur.

Risk factors for diverticulitis include family history, obesity, smoking, and low fiber diet.  Diverticula become more common with age.

Diverticulitis can be prevented by regular exercise as it promotes normal bowel function, eating more fiber, and drinking plenty of fluids which helps eliminate waste.

Diagnosis of diverticulitis is made typically by a CT scan, but can be found on colonoscopy as well.  Treatment is with antibiotics.  If the diverticula perforate or cause an abscess, then surgery may be necessary.

Appendicitis would typically be on the right lower side of the abdomen; cholecystitis would be on the right upper side.  Urinary tract infection would usually cause burning and increased frequency of urination.

Diverticula on wall of intestine:


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