Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a pouch-shaped like finger that projects from the colon on the lower right side of the abdomen. Generally, a human’s appendix is 9 cm long and 6 mm broad. It has a worm-like shape; hence is also known as the vermiform appendix.
Inflammation or swelling in the appendix is known as Appendicitis.
Appendicitis condition is found more in males compared to females. The risk factors associated with this condition depend on family history, age, and sex. If you have a history of Appendicitis in your family, you may develop it.
What are the symptoms observed in appendicitis?
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. The signs of Appendicitis are-
- Sudden pain, which starts on right side of your lower abdomen
- Sudden pain, which starts around navel and shifts often to the lower right abdomen
- Pain that gets worse if you walk, cough, or make any other jarring movements
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Abdominal bloating
- Low-grade fever that may worsen as the illness progresses
In pregnant women, pain occurs in the upper right part of the belly as the appendix’s position moves upwards during the pregnancy. Appendicitis is one of the common reasons why pregnant women have to undergo surgery during pregnancy. It is easier to detect Appendicitis symptoms in the first and second trimesters, which means the first 3 or 6 months of pregnancy.
When to see a doctor?
If you experience severe abdominal pain, consult your physician to avoid any significant medical conditions.
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What are the functions of the appendix?
In the process of evolution, the human appendix was thought not to perform any major function in the body. But recent findings show that it plays a major role in improving our immune system. Some of the important functions are-
- The appendix is beneficial and provides nourishment to gut bacteria. It helps the digestive system to recover after an infection.
- In unborn babies
,the appendix helps create a temperature-controlled environment.
- In adults, the appendix performs immune-related functions. White blood cells provide us protection against foreign agents like bacteria and viruses when they enter our bodies. The presence of the appendix has shown to activate white blood cells towards these agents to protect our body from harmful invasions.
What are the types of appendicitis?
Before discussing the causes and symptoms, it is necessary to know the types of severity in Appendicitis. Appendicitis can be- acute or chronic.
- Acute Appendicitis: It occurs more frequently compared to chronic Appendicitis. The symptoms arise immediately within a day or two if you are suffering from acute Appendicitis. It is so severe that it needs urgent treatment. If not treated, the appendix might burst inside the body. Pain can be treated with medication for a short time, but surgical treatment is still required. Appendectomy is performed by the removal of the appendix to cure the pain and further health risks.
- Chronic Appendicitis: The symptoms of chronic Appendicitis last for a longer period. The pain comes and goes and is less intense compared to acute Appendicitis. This condition can be confused with other gastrointestinal (intestine related) disorders like gas or constipation. Therefore getting a check-up if you have pain for a longer time is necessary to determine the cause.
What causes lead to appendicitis?
The possible cause of appendicitis is a blockage in the lining of your appendix which results in infection. The bacteria multiply quickly, making the appendix inflamed, swollen and also filled with pus. The appendix can rupture, if not treated quickly.
Appendicitis is often confused with stomach flu or indigestion; hence understanding its actual is important
How is appendicitis diagnosed?
When there is consistent pain in the abdomen, it should not be taken casually, and healthcare professionals need to be contacted immediately. Appendicitis is always treated as an emergency.
- Initially, the treating physician will perform a physical examination of the body. After that, your doctor will order a complete blood count(CBC).
- In females, the symptoms might develop due to inflammation in the pelvic region; hence your doctor will perform a pelvic exam.
- Chest imaging tests are also used in diagnosis. Pneumonia causes symptoms like Appendicitis, so the doctor needs to confirm the root cause of the disease and treat it.
- Ultrasound is a common diagnostic procedure done to detect Appendicitis. Ultrasound is a machine that detects abnormalities in the intestine, stomach, or abdomen region using high-frequency sound waves.
What are the treatments associated with appendicitis?
Treatment of Appendicitis depends on different age groups and other health conditions.
- The appendix removal is called an appendectomy. It is a surgical procedure performed with a single cut or multiple cuts (laparoscopic appendectomy). After surgery, antibiotics are prescribed to reduce pain in the abdomen and for faster recovery.
What are the complications of appendicitis?
When left untreated, the appendix might rupture. If it bursts open, it may lead to a serious infection in the bloodstream.
If attention is not paid to continuous abdominal pain and misjudged as gas or any other problem, appendix will burst and spill the pus to nearby organs like the liver, stomach, intestines, and cause peritonitis. Peritonitis is the infection of the abdominal lining. This pus contains many harmful bacteria that will infect other internal organs. Due to peritonitis-
- Abdominal pain increases.
- An increase in the rate of heartbeat is observed with high body temperature.
If not treated, peritonitis may also cause death.
What are the risk factors in appendicitis?
Risk factors predict future complications of the disease or disorder and are an important step ahead in taking precautions-
- Appendicitis is commonly seen in the age range of 10-30 years old.
- If you have diabetes, there are chances for Appendicitis to occur.
- The occurrence of Appendicitis is more common in males than in females.
Appendicitis affects 5 to 7% of the general population across all ages. Surgical treatment should be taken without any second thought in cases of Appendicitis to avoid further complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What kind of foods make appendicitis worse?
Seeds of vegetables and fruits can cause discomfort and pain in the abdomen as they are not easily digestible. Avoid food that takes time to digest when there is abdominal pain. Medications should not be taken without consultation and prescription provided by the doctor.
Q. How long does a patient needs to stay in the hospital after surgery?
Usually, the patient stays for three days after the surgery to keep them under observation.
Q. Can Appendicitis be checked at home? It cannot be checked at home because the pain is internally located.