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Avatar universal

Diverticulitis and Bowel Movements

I was diagnosed with diverticulitis about 10 days ago. My symptoms were lower left side pain which was trigered (and relieved) by moving and was very sensitive to pressing down on it. When pressed upon the pain was very sharp, like pressing into a muscle tear. I took antibiotics and this pain cleared up. I take my last antibiotics today.
As I'm quite young (33) my Doc has scheduled me to have a colonoscopy next month to make sure it was diverticulitis and not colon cancer.
I'm very worried and suffering anxiety fearing that it may be cancer.
My fears stem from the fact that even though the antiobiotics seem to have cleared up the pain, my bowel movements have not returned to normal since the start of the infection. I have movements in the mornings and they're narrow/runny  (thus causing my anxiety). In the morning also I seem to have a tiny hint of the earlier pain which has cleared up just before the bowel movement, when the lower colon seems full. My questions are, can it take a while for bowel movements to return to normal after an attack of diverticulitis?    If I had one normal wide bowel movement my terrible anxiety bout what my colonoscopy will find would dissapate. Also, can narrow, runny and squeezed movements be caused by diverculitics, the antibiotics or perhaps the anxiety this is all causing me rather than Colon Cancer?
Finally, is there any way I can eat/take things to increase the chance of a proper wide normal stool?
Any help would be hugely appreciated.  
I remember having normal, non-narrow movements as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
17 Responses
233190 tn?1278553401
It is possible that the diverticulitis can lead to changes in bowel movement.  Recovery can vary from patient to patient.  

Before attributing the changes in the bowel shape to diverticulitis, I agree that the colonoscopy should be done to exclude colon cancer.  

If the stool shape is abnormal despite non-revealing tests, increasing fiber in the diet can help regulate the bowel movements.  

I would consider an abdominal CT scan at this point to confirm or exclude diverticulitis as a cause.

These options can be discussed with your personal physician.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
Avatar universal
I should probably add my other symptoms. I have no nausea, no loss of appitite, no blood in stools (that I've noticed) but have had occasionally mildly aching groin. It's really just the narrow squirmy stools which makes me fear a tumor. My white blood cell count was slightly elevated and the other test my doc did to confirm his divertiulitis diagnosis was "not as elevated" as expected. I really appreciate any help or advice you can give me. My problems could be stress related and this forum gives so much help to so many suffering with stress. My colonoscopy is set for 6 weeks time. thanks again.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much doctor. I do appreciate it.
I know the fact that the antibiotics cleared it up doesn't confirm the diverticulitis diagnosis (as it could have been perionitis from a leak caused by a tumour?) but does this fact, plus the fact that there was a non narrow stool only ten days ago before the diverticulitis treatment began, plus the lack of any other symptoms give weight to my doctor's diagnosis of diverticulitis as oppossed to colon cancer?

I'm wondering as because, in adition to my "colon cancer" anxiety, I'm also concerned as if there is no diverticulitis then I should really have my colonoscopy sooner rather than later, and so I should perhaps really push him for a abdominal CT scan before the colonosopy next month?

Thanks again.  
82861 tn?1333457511
The doc won't answer follow-up questions, but I suspect the "loosening" of your stools is simply due to the antibiotics - happens to a whole lot of people.  Your white cell count was up due to the infection - diverticulitis is an infection after all.  Since your symptoms are getting better, I doubt cancer is an issue and it appears you really are being treated appropriately with having the colonoscopy scheduled.  I really do understand the need to have answers Right Now, but do try not to worry too much.  Is there any way you can get moved up on the schedule for your colonoscopy?  People do cancel and you may be able to work in an earlier appointment.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your kind comments and information. They are appreciated. Do you know if partial obstruction ever comes with/from diverticulitis?
82861 tn?1333457511
Sorry, I have no idea what the incidence of partial obstruction due to diverticulitis might be.  However, infection causes inflammation of the affected tissues, which can cause scar tissue, or adhesions to grow.  Bowel adhesions could cause the symptoms you are currently experiencing.  When you have the colonoscopy done, ask your doc if he found any spots that were difficult to get the scope through.  That would be one indication that scar tissue might be causing your troubles.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much. Your comments have been so helpful. I feel much better now awaiting my colonoscopy. I suppose I just need to give my colon a while to recover from the infection and slowly get normal bowel function back. After the scope I'll come back and post the results so it might help someone els trawlling through the archives. Thanks again jaybay.
82861 tn?1333457511
I'm so glad!  Yes, it takes time for bowels to calm down when they've been "messed with" in any way.  Not fun, but not fatal either.  I'm very happy I could help.  :-)
Avatar universal
I came down with an acute case of Diverticulitis a year ago. I'm 43, and have never had any digestive problems. I had light pain in the lower left abdomen that increased through out the day, which resulted in  spending the night in the hospital.  2 CT scans revealed diverticulitis.  

After the antibiotics, the recovery was very slow, just as you described.  I still had "very" mild cramps before bm's for weeks after the antibiotics were gone.  I was very tired and fatigue for weeks.  My doctor said it was normal, and that it takes a long time for the infection to clear up.

A colonoscopy followed around approx. 6 weeks later also.  It takes time for the colon to recover from the infection before they can check things out.  My tests came out fine.

So don't worry, it does take time.  It took a few months for me to feel totally normal again.


Avatar universal
had a colonoscopy done over 2years ago and my doctor diagnosed me with IBS and some diverticuli.  I try to eat more fiber, drink lots of water, and exercise 6 days a week, but it does not seem to be getting better, but worse.  After every meal I develop within 10-15 minutes gas.  And it's hard to describe, but it gets stuck inside me and I have to really work hard at getting it out!  Their is usually some gas pain and it's always located on my left side as well.  It sometimes keeps me up at night.  I've tried charcoal, and Gasx, and Maalox, but nothing helps.  It's like my gas is having a hard time finding it's way out the door!  Please help!  It's on my mind constantly, every day while I'm at work!
Avatar universal
I have also been diagnosed with divertiulosis.  It started with a light pain in my lower left quandrant.  I went to my gastro doc for a colonoscopy - every thing was fine.  Family doc sent me for a CT scan - no masses but diverticula present.  The gastro doc says irritable bowel.  This has been about a year now. I am still in pain only worse than before.  It keeps me awake.  It feels like a hot tennis ball on my left hip bone.  Does this sound familiar.?
Avatar universal
I've had these pains in my bowel, intestine, appendix and stomach for the past 2 or 3 months.  Before all of this happened, I started a Gillian McKeith diet and 'round about 2 weeks later I was constipated. Last night I was hallucinating/seeing things... it was really strange.  I've already been to see my doctor and he put me on Movicol for 2 months but I stopped taking it after 5 weeks because the pains came back just 3 days ago.  I've lost too much weight in too little time, too quickly, and I'm not even hungry, even though my stomach is.  I have a slight cold that has been there for about 2 weeks now and it's gradually getting better, although green mucus comes out of my nose every now and then, but I've heard that is just to do with the plants giving off chlorophyl or something?  I'm going to see what happens within the next week or so without Movicol, and if my pains are still there then I'm going back to my doctor!  I'm usually depressed too and cry even if something that's been said wasn't offensive to me.  This has been happening for about 8 months now and I'm normally thinking about death and suicide, although the depression fades a little once I'm not on my period.  Last year I missed 5 months of my period and this year I've already missed one.  This happened after I got put on the pill as my periods were lasting 12-15 days.  When I was 9, I was in hospital for not eating and I weighed 2-3 stone.  I have no idea whether any of the above is related to whatever is going on with me right now, but I really need some help/advice please before I go to see my doctor again! Thanks.
Avatar universal
Hi, "A hot tennis ball on the hip bone" does sound fairly right, for part of it. When the infection is present it tends to make the a larger area of colon very tender, rather than just the primary site near the hip bone. And so pressing anywhere in this region is very sore and movement which affects it hurts too. Sitting still is usually painless unless gas or faeces are passing through the site and then it can be sore too, right at that "tennis ball" site you mentioned
Right now I'm having a second outbreak, just a month after the first one! It's in a different area too, the descending colon rather than the sigmoid colon.
As JayBay said, it took a while for the colon to recover after the first outbreak and it had only really come back to normal (bowel movement wise) about a month after the infection, a new one started and so I'm back to square one. Also the colonoscopy will now be put off even longer I fear because of the new infection.
Avatar universal
CLou, that sounds awful, you poor thing. Many chronic bowel/digestive disorders cause such constant pains and discomfort that depression is a factor and needs careful management. So getting help with this aspect, as well as the pains, is important.
Note also that it's not hugely uncommon to have a number of bowel disorders (IBS, Diverticulitis, U.C.) at once and so this complicates things. Many people with Ulcerative Colitis or Diverticulitis also have IBS.
But if you haven't already you should get tested for celiac disease. In severe cases it can give many of the symptoms you seem to be having.
But chronic pain leads to depression and so this needs to be treated as well as finding the cause of the pain, so take care with this.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, AFTER DIVERTICULITIS was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, diverticulitis was started.
Avatar universal
A related discussion, re-anastamosis of small bowel to rectum was started.
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