What Is Appendicitis?

Do you know that our body has some organs with no derived function? One of such kind is an appendix. Appendix is a finger-like pouch present at the end of the colon on the lower side of the right abdomen. The function of the appendix is not known, and hence it is considered as a vestigial organ.

Inflammation of the appendix is called appendicitis. The condition may be acute or chronic. It is the most commonly abdominal pain that results in a medical emergency and requires immediate care. It can occur in any individual but commonly seen in men and individuals between the age 10 and 30.

Appendicitis Symptoms

Symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Severe pain in the right side of lower abdomen
  • Sudden severe pain at the belly button
  • Worsening pain while coughing, sneezing, or walking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low-grade fever
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Constipation or diarrhea

If appendicitis occurs during pregnancy, the pain would be severe and if perforation occurs, the stomach becomes hard and swollen.

Complications

When obstruction occurs in the appendix, bacteria invade the organ leading to the formation of pus and increased pressure. The increased pressure can compress local blood vessels decreasing blood flow that can result in gangrene.

If the appendix ruptures, fecal matter enters the abdomen (medical emergency). A ruptured appendix can also cause inflammation of the abdominal wall (peritonitis). Inflammation of the caecum or bladder may also occur due to a ruptured appendix. If the appendix leaks out instead of rupturing, there will be the formation of an abscess.

What Causes Appendicitis?

Obstruction of the appendix causes accumulation of mucus and swelling leading to appendicitis. Often, a complete obstruction requires immediate surgical intervention. Obstruction occurs due to accumulation of fecal matter, enlargement of lymphoid follicles, trauma, intestinal worms, and tumours.

Nonsurgical therapy

If you are not healthy enough to undergo surgery, your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatment. This therapy includes the use of antibiotics to treat infections and the consumption of a soft diet that includes foods rich in fiber and healthy fruits and vegetables.

Your doctor performs a physical examination to examine the tenderness in the lower quadrant of the abdomen.

Other tests include:

Blood tests – to rule out infections by observing white blood cell count

Urinalysis – to rule out urinary tract infection

Pelvic exam – to rule out pelvic infections or any other gynecological problems that may be causing pain

Pregnancy tests – to rule out suspected ectopic pregnancy

Imaging tests – such as X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan to observe other sources of abdominal pain and also to determine complications

Chest X-ray – to rule outright lower lobe pneumonia (have similar symptoms like appendicitis)

Surgery

The standard treatment for appendicitis is surgery that involves the removal of the appendix. The procedure is called appendectomy that can be done in two methods.

  • Laparotomy – a single incision is made to remove the appendix
  • Laparoscopic appendectomy – several small incisions are made using special surgical tools to remove the appendix. The advantage of this surgery is fast recovery.

If there is an abscess without rupture, your doctor prescribes antibiotics and then drains the abscess. After draining, appendicitis surgery is performed to remove appendix.

If the abscess or appendix is ruptured, then you may need surgery immediately. In this case, your surgeon may prefer an open appendectomy as this procedure facilitates cleaning of the abdominal cavity.

The type of appendix operation performed varies for every individual depending on the physical condition.

Aftercare:

Follow few measures for a quick recovery after the surgery:

  • Limit your physical activity for three to five days. In case of open appendectomy, limit activity for 10 to 14 days.
  • Support your abdomen while coughing by placing a pillow over the abdomen to reduce pain.
  • Take adequate rest.
  • Seek medical advice if pain persists for a prolonged time.

FAQ- Appendicitis

Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis are: - Severe pain in the right side of the lower abdomen, Sudden severe pain at the belly button, worsening pain while coughing, sneezing, or walking, loss of appetite, Nausea and vomiting, Low-grade fever, Abdominal swelling, Constipation or diarrhea.

Obstruction of the appendix due to accumulation of fecal matter, enlargement of lymphoid follicles, trauma, intestinal worms, and tumours causes accumulation of mucus and swelling leading to appendicitis.

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