Diverticulitis is swelling or infection of the diverticula. These small pouches can form anywhere throughout the digestive tract from the esophagus to the intestines and may never cause a problem. When they do become inflamed or infected, symptoms include pain on the lower left side of the abdomen, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or constipation and fever. Although diverticulitis can occur anywhere throughout the tract, it is most common in the large intestine. Mild cases are treated with antibiotics. More severe cases may require surgery.
This combination antibiotic, also known by the brand name Augmentin, is the first choice for treating mild diverticulitis. The most common reactions are diarrhea, skin rash, nausea and yeast infection. Serious reactions include anemia, seizures and liver damage. This antibiotic reduces the effectiveness of birth control pills. It should not be used by anyone with a penicillin allergy. The typical course is one pill every eight hours for one week.
Ciprofloxacin is a primary treatment option for those who cannot take penicillin-based antibiotics. Commonly sold as Cipro, this antibiotic may cause dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and increased sun sensitivity. Rare serious side effects include psychosis, hallucinations and ruptured tendons. This medication is usually taken once every 12 hours for a week to 10 days. It is given along with metronidazole.
Metronidazole, also known as Flagyl, is an antibiotic/antiparisitic medication used with ciprofloxacin to treat diverticulitis. Common side effects include nausea and vomiting, furry tongue, dizziness, fever, dry mouth and confusion. This medication should not be used if the patient is in the first trimester of pregnancy. Metronidazole is usually taken every eight hours for seven to 10 days.
Ceftriaxone, or Rocephin, along with metronidazole, are given through an IV when diverticulitis symptoms do not improve within 72 hours or when fever is present. The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting, sweating, vaginal discharge and dizziness. It may also cause rare serious side effects such as skin conditions, seizures, pancreatitis and jaundice. Ceftiaxone cannot be used by patients allergic to cephalosporin antibiotics. It is typically given once a day.
The secondary IV treatment is a piperacillin/tazobactam combination sold under the brand name Zosyn. It should not be used by those allergic to penicillin. This medication can cause rash, itchiness, swelling, increased blood pressure, diarrhea, headache, insomnia, anxiety and fever. Serious complications include liver and kidney damage, seizures and bleeding. It is given every six hours through the IV.
Acetaminophen or another over-the-counter medicine is usually recommended for mild to moderate discomfort associated with diverticulitis. If severe pain is present, your doctor may prescribe a stronger narcotic pain reliever. However, these drugs often cause constipation, which can aggravate the condition.