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Diverticular Disease

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A diverticulum (plural: diverticula) is a small pouch that sticks out from the side of the colon (large bowel). Diverticula can affect anyone, especially older people. However, they seem to be more common in people with ADPKD than in people without kidney problems.

Most people with diverticula have no symptoms, but when symptoms are present you are said to have diverticular disease.

Causes of diverticular disease

It is unclear why diverticular disease is more common in people with ADPKD. But factors that generally increase the risk include:

  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • Low levels of fibre in the diet
  • Obesity
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and paracetamol

Symptoms of diverticular disease

Symptoms of diverticular disease may include:

  • Pain in the abdomen, usually on the lower-left side
  • Pain that gets worse with eating and gets better with defecation
  • Sometimes bloating or constipation
  • Sometimes bleeding from the rectum.

Diagnosing diverticular disease

Diverticular disease can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms can be similar to those of other problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Your doctor will examine you physically and check your medical history (including any history of diverticular disease). Your doctor may recommend blood tests to rule out other problems, and to see if you have an infection. You may also need to have a colonoscopy or a barium enema X-ray to confirm that you have diverticula.

Treating diverticular disease

Diverticular disease can usually be treated at home with:

  • Paracetamol for pain
  • A high-fibre diet
  • Laxatives for constipation
  • Plenty of fluids.

If your diverticular symptoms are severe or do not improve with home treatment, contact your GP.

Preventing diverticular disease

At present, there are no specific measures to prevent diverticular disease in people with ADPKD. General advice to reduce the risk includes:

  • Eat a high-fibre diet
  • Do not smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid NSAIDs

More information

The information on this page is under review by the PKD Charity using the accredited Information Standard process.

How to print this information: click the printer button top right for a printer-friendly version. However, if you don't have access to a printer and would like a printed version of this factsheet, or any other PKD Charity information, call the PKD Charity Helpline on 0300 111 1234 (weekdays, 10.00am-4.30pm) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PKD Charity Helpline: The PKD Charity Helpline offers confidential support and information to anyone affected by PKD, including family, friends, carers, newly diagnosed or those who have lived with the condition for many years.

Disclaimer: This information is primarily for people in the UK. We have made every effort to ensure that the information we provide is correct and up to date. However, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical examination. We do not promote or recommend any treatment. We do not accept liability for any errors or omissions. Medical information, the law and government regulations change rapidly, so always consult your GP, pharmacist or other medical professional if you have any concerns or before starting any new treatment.

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Registered charity No 1160970/SC047730

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