You were in the hospital to treat diverticulitis. This is an infection of an abnormal pouch (called a diverticulum) in your intestinal wall (most commonly in the sigmoid colon). This article tells you how to take care of yourself when you leave the hospital.
When You're in the Hospital
You may have had a CT scan or other tests that helped your health care provider check your colon. You may have received fluids and drugs that fight infections through an intravenous (IV) tube in your vein. You were probably on a special diet to help your colon rest and heal.
If your diverticulitis was very bad, or a repeat of past swelling, you may need surgery.
Your provider may also recommend that you have further tests to look at your colon (large intestine) such as colonoscopy. It is important to follow up with these tests.
What to Expect at Home
Your pain and other symptoms should go away after a few days of treatment. If they do not get better, or if they get worse, you will need to call the provider.
Once these pouches have formed, you have them for life. If you make a few simple changes in your lifestyle, you may not have diverticulitis again.
Your provider may have given you antibiotics to treat any infection. Take them as you were told you to. Make sure you finish the whole prescription. Call your provider if you have any side effects.
Do not put off having a bowel movement. This can lead to a firmer stool, which will make you use more force to pass it.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Exercise regularly.
When you first go home or after an attack, your provider may ask you to drink liquids only at first, then slowly increase your diet. In the beginning, you may need to avoid whole-grain foods, fruits, and vegetables. This will help your colon rest.
After you are better, your provider will suggest that you add more fiber to your diet and avoid certain foods. Eating more fiber may help prevent future attacks. If you have bloating or gas, cut down the amount of fiber you eat for a few days.
High fiber foods include:
- Fruits, such as tangerines, prunes, apples, bananas, peaches, and pears
- Tender cooked vegetables, such as asparagus, beets, mushrooms, turnips, pumpkin, broccoli, artichokes, lima beans, squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes
- Lettuce and peeled potatoes
- Vegetable juices
- High-fiber cereals (such as shredded wheat) and muffins
- Hot cereals, such as oatmeal, farina, and cream of wheat
- Whole-grain breads (whole wheat or whole rye)
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if you have:
- Blood in your stools
- Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) that does not go away
- Nausea, vomiting, or chills
- Sudden belly or back pain, or pain that gets worse or is very severe
- Ongoing diarrhea
Diverticular disease - discharge
Bhuket TP, Stollman NH. Diverticular disease of the colon. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 121.
Kuemmerle JK. Inflammatory and anatomic diseases of the intestine, peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 133.
Review Date 11/2/2020
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.