Appendicitis

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 12 April 2021

Table of Contents:

  1. What Is Appendicitis?
  2. Where Is Your Appendix?
  3. What Causes Appendicitis?
  4. What Are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?
  5. How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
  6. What Is the Treatment for Appendicitis?
  7. What to Expect During an Appendectomy
  8. Appendicitis Complications
  9. Appendicitis Prevention

 

 

Appendicitis

 

What Is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed. It’s a medical emergency that almost always requires appendix removal surgery as soon as possible. Fortunately, you can live without your appendix.

Where Is Your Appendix?

This 3 1/2-inch-long piece of tissue can be found on the lower right side of your body, extending from your large intestine.

What Causes Appendicitis?

1 out of every 20 people can develop appendicitis at some stage in their lives. Appendicitis is uncommon in children under the age of two, despite the fact that it can occur at any age. People between the ages of 10 and 30 are most likely to be affected.

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes obstructed, which can be caused by faeces, a foreign object (something inside you that shouldn’t be there) or cancer. Since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body, blockage may also be caused by infection.

What Are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?

The following are the classic symptoms of appendicitis:

  • Pain in your lower right abdomen or pain near your navel that moves lower. This is usually the first indication.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Nausea and vomiting occur shortly after the onset of stomach pain.
  • Swollen stomach
  • Fever above 37.5 degrees celsius
  • Unable to pass gas

Other less common appendicitis symptoms include:

  • Dull or sharp pain anywhere in your upper or lower belly, back, or rear end
  • Passing urine that is painful or difficult
  • Vomiting prior to the onset of stomach pain
  • Cramps that are extremely painful
  • Constipation or diarrhoea accompanied by gas

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor right away. It is crucial to get a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Avoid eating, drinking, or using any pain relievers, antacids, laxatives, or heating pads.

How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?

Appendicitis can be easily missed. Symptoms are frequently ambiguous or similar to those of other illnesses, such as gallbladder problems, bladder or urinary tract infection, Crohn’s disease, gastritis, kidney stones, intestinal infection, and ovarian problems.

These tests can aid in the diagnosis of appendicitis:

  • Examination of your abdomen for signs of inflammation.
  • Urine tests to prevent infection of the urinary tract
  • Rectal exam
  • Blood tests will be performed to determine whether your body is fighting an infection.
  • Abdominal XRays
  • CT scans
  • Ultrasound

What Is the Treatment for Appendicitis?

Almost always, appendicitis is treated as a case of emergencies. Almost all cases of appendicitis are treated with surgery to remove the appendix, known as an appendectomy.

If your doctor suspects you have appendicitis, they will usually remove it as soon as possible to avoid a rupture. You may be given two procedures if you have an abscess: one to drain pus and fluid abscess, and one later to take the appendix out (appendectomy). However, some research suggests that using antibiotics to treat acute appendicitis may help you avoid surgery in certain cases.

What to Expect During an Appendectomy

Antibiotics will be given to you before your appendix is removed to prevent infection. You’ll usually be given general anaesthesia, which means you’ll be asleep during the procedure. The appendix is removed by the doctor through a 4-inch-long incision or with a device known as a laparoscope (a thin telescope-like tool that lets them see inside your belly). Laparoscopy is the medical term for this procedure. If you have peritonitis (inflammation of your abdominal lining), the surgeon will clean out your stomach and drain the pus.

Within 12 hours of surgery, you should be able to get up and move around. In 2 to 3 weeks, you should be able to resume your normal daily activities. Recovery is quicker if you had a laparoscopy.

If you have any of the following symptoms after an appendectomy, contact your doctor:

  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Increased belly pain
  • Dizziness/feelings of faintness
  • Blood in your vomit or urine
  • Increased pain and redness where your doctor cut into your belly
  • Fever above 37.5 degrees celsius
  • Pus in the wound

Appendicitis Complications

An inflamed appendix will burst if left untreated, spilling bacteria and debris into the abdominal cavity, which houses the liver, stomach, and intestines. This can result in peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum). It can be fatal if not treated promptly with strong antibiotics and surgery to washout the abdominal cavity.

An abscess can form outside of an inflamed appendix. The appendix is then “walled off" from the rest of your organs by scar tissue. This prevents the infection from spreading further. An abscessed appendix, on the other hand, can tear and cause peritonitis.

Appendicitis Prevention

Appendicitis cannot be avoided. However, it may be less common in people who consume high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sources

Referenced on 10.4.2021

  1. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-appendicitis
  2. Di Saverio, S. Ann Surg., July 2014.
  3. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. 
  4. National institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  5. Emedicine.
  6. University of Maryland Medical Center: “Appendicitis."
  7. UpToDate: “Management of acute appendicitis in adults."
  8. Mayo Clinic: “Appendicitis.”
  9. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons: “Laparoscopic Appendix Removal (Appendectomy).”

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