Diverticula are sacs formed by a fold of the lining of the intestinal wall. They extend through the muscle surrounding the bowel, and occasionally trap feces moving through the intestine may divert into them and become trapped. Diverticula are extremely common and usually harmless. They tend to appear after age 40 and are more likely to appear in seniors.
Diverticulosis is the condition of having one or more diverticula. Usually there are no symptoms or problems associated with this condition.
Occasionally, diverticula become inflamed. If you have one or more inflamed diverticula, you are diagnosed with diverticulitis. The word ending "-itis" means inflammation. Diverticulitis can be a serious condition.
Diverticula often appear in bunches. Each is typically less than an inch in diameter. Rare giant diverticula can be up to 6 inches in diameter, and always appear alone.
Diverticula can also appear in the gastrointestinal tract above the stomach, in the esophagus. In these cases, it's food rather than feces that may get trapped. Esophageal diverticula don't cause dangerous problems, but a few people find that trapped food comes back up when they bend over or lie down.