The appendix is a closed-ended, narrow, worm-like tube up to several inches that attaches to the cecum (the first part of the colon). It is not clear if the appendix has an important role in the body in older children and adults.
Appendicitis is an acute inflammation of the appendix. Symptoms include pain and tenderness in the lower abdominal area, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment typically includes making time to relax, drinking fluids and getting plenty of rest before surgery.
Appendicitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the appendix and typically causes pain, nausea, fever, and diarrhea. Learn more about the symptoms of appendicitis here.
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What is the appendix?
The appendix is a closed-ended, narrow, worm-like tube up to several inches 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. Lymphatic tissue is part of the immune system and is on the wall of the appendix. 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.
Where appendicitis pain is located?
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 know: we can live without it, without apparent consequences.
Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of your tummy (abdomen) that may come and go. Within hours, the pain travels to your lower right-hand side, where the appendix is usually located, and becomes constant and severe. Pressing on this area, coughing or walking may make the pain worse.
What is an appendicitis?
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 the infection, since the appendix can swell in response to an infection in the body.
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What are the two types of appendicitis?
Appendicitis can be acute or chronic. In acute cases of appendicitis, the symptoms are severe and develop suddenly. In chronic cases, the symptoms may be milder and may come and go over several weeks, months, or even years. The condition can also be simple or complex. In simple cases of appendicitis, there are no complications. Complex cases involve complications, such as an abscess or ruptured appendix.
How do you check if you have appendicitis?
Appendicitis is a condition of inflammation in the appendix. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, fever also develops.
11 Early appendicitis symptoms
- 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.
Appendicitis with Pregnancy
Acute appendicitis is the most common non-obstetric emergency requiring surgery during pregnancy. It affects about 0.04 to 0.2 per cent of pregnant women. The symptoms of appendicitis may be mistaken for routine discomfort from pregnancy. Pregnancy may also cause your appendix to shift upward in your abdomen, which can affect the location of appendicitis-related pain. This can make it harder to diagnose. Delayed diagnosis and treatment may increase your risk of complications, including miscarriage.
Treatment options during pregnancy might include:
- surgery to remove your appendix
- needle drainage or surgery to drain an abscess
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.
Test for Appendicitis
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
Treatment for Appendicitis
Surgery to remove the appendix, which is called an appendectomy, is the standard treatment for almost all cases of appendicitis.
If appendicitis is suspected, doctors 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.
How to provent appendicitis?
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. Foods that are high in fibre include;
- lentils, split peas, beans, and other legumes
- oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat, and other whole grains
Your doctor may also encourage you to take a fibre supplement.
Appendicitis treament without surgery
Contact your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of appendicitis. It’s a serious condition that requires medical treatment. And it’s not safe to rely on home remedies to treat it. If you undergo surgery to remove your appendix, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers to support your recovery. Besides taking medications as prescribed, it may help to:
- get lots of rest
- drink plenty of fluids
- go for a gentle walk each day
- avoid strenuous activity and lifting heavy objects until your doctor says it’s safe to do so
- keep your surgical incision sites clean and dry
Sometimes, your doctor might encourage you to adjust your diet. If you’re feeling nauseous after surgery, it might help to eat bland foods such as toast and plain rice. If you’re constipated, it might help to take a fibre supplement.
Treatment for appendicitis with surgery
To treat appendicitis, your doctor may use a type of surgery known as appendectomy. During this procedure, they will remove your appendix. If your appendix has burst, they will also clean out your abdominal cavity.
Sometimes, your doctor may use laparoscopy to perform minimally invasive surgery. In other cases, they may have to use open surgery to remove your appendix. Like any surgery, there are some risks associated with appendectomy. However, the risks of appendectomy are smaller than the risks of untreated appendicitis.
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