Appendix – What is appendix?
The appendix is a closed-ended, narrow, worm-like tube up to several inches in length that attaches to the cecum (the first part of the colon). (The anatomical name for the appendix, vermiform appendix, means worm-like appendage.) The inner lining of the appendix produces a small amount of mucus that flows through the open central core of the appendix and into the cecum. The wall of the appendix contains lymphatic tissue that is part of the immune system. Like the rest of the colon, the wall of the appendix also contains a layer of muscle, but the layer of muscle is poorly developed.
It is not clear if the appendix has an important role in the body in older children and adults. In young children, it may have an immune function. There are no major, long-term health problems resulting from removing the appendix although a slight increase in some diseases has been noted, for example, Crohn’s disease.
Appendicitis – What Is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a 3 1/2-inch-long tube of tissue that extends from the large intestine.
One thing we do know: We can live without it, without apparent consequences.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity’s lining (the peritoneum) that can be fatal unless it is treated quickly with strong antibiotics.
Sometimes a pus-filled abscess (an infection that is walled off from the rest of the body) forms outside the inflamed appendix. Scar tissue then “walls off” the appendix from the rest of the abdomen, preventing infection from spreading. An abscessed appendix can perforate or explode and cause peritonitis. For this reason, almost all cases of appendicitis are treated as emergencies, requiring surgery.
Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by stool, a foreign body, or cancer. The blockage may also occur from infection since the appendix can swell in response to an infection in the body.
Read About: Adrenal Functions
What Are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?
- Dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen. This is usually the first sign.
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins
- Abdominal swelling
- Fever of 99-102 degrees Fahrenheit
- Inability to pass gas
- Dull or sharp pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back, or rectum
- Painful urination and difficulty passing urine
- Vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain
- Severe cramps
- Constipation or diarrhoea with gas
If you have any of the mentioned symptoms, seek medical attention immediately, because timely diagnosis and treatment are very important. Do not eat, drink, or use any pain remedies, antacids, laxatives, or heating pads, which can cause an inflamed appendix to rupture.
How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing appendicitis can be tricky. Symptoms of appendicitis are frequently vague or extremely similar to other ailments, including gallbladder problems, bladder or urinary tract infection, Crohn’s disease, gastritis, intestinal infection, and ovary problems.
The following tests are usually used to help make the diagnosis:
- Abdominal exam to detect inflammation
- Urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection
- Rectal exam
- Blood tests e.g CBC to see if your body is fighting infection
- CT scans and/or ultrasound
How Is Appendicitis Treated?
Surgery to remove the appendix, which is called an appendectomy, is the standard treatment for almost all cases of appendicitis.
Generally, if appendicitis is suspected, doctors tend to err on the side of safety and quickly remove the appendix to avoid its rupture.
If the appendix has formed an abscess, you may have two procedures: one to drain the abscess of pus and fluid, and a later one to remove the appendix. However, there is some research showing that treatment of acute appendicitis with antibiotics may eliminate the need for surgery in certain cases.
Can Appendicitis Be Prevented?
There is no way to prevent appendicitis. However, appendicitis may be less common in people who eat foods high in fibre, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
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