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Appendicitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Severe pain in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen can be a symptom of appendicitis. Most of the times, appendicitis is a medical emergency and requires surgical treatment to avoid complications.

What Is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, a small pouch-like tissue projecting from your colon or large intestine on the right side of your abdomen. This causes severe pain and most often occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30. Appendicitis can be acute or chronic [1] , [2] .

What Causes Appendicitis

Appendicitis occurs when there is a blockage in the lining of the appendix, resulting in infection due to the multiplying of bacteria, causing the appendix to become inflamed, swollen and filled with pus.

A build-up of hardened stool, tumours, intestinal worms, a traumatic injury or enlarged lymphoid follicles are some of the ways in which your appendix can get blocked.

Symptoms Of Appendicitis

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Fever
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Sudden pain on the right side of your lower abdomen
  • Sudden pain that begins around your navel and shifts to the lower abdomen
  • Painful urination

Risk Factors Of Appendicitis [3]

  • Age - Appendicitis most often affects people between the ages of 15 and 30 years old.
  • Sex - Appendicitis is common in males than females.
  • Family history - People who have a family history of appendicitis have a higher risk.

Complications Of Appendicitis [4]

Peritonitis - When the appendix ruptures and spreads the infection into the abdomen, it is called peritonitis. This causes bowel movements to shut down.

Abscess - If your appendix bursts, you may develop an abscess. If the abscess isn't treated, it can cause peritonitis.

Diagnosis Of Appendicitis [5]

The symptoms of appendicitis are similar to other health conditions like urinary tract infection, gastritis, intestinal infection, gallbladder problems, and ovary problems. So, diagnosing appendicitis can be difficult.

The tests which are used to diagnose appendicitis are a blood test, urine test, physical examination, and imaging tests.

Treatment Of Appendicitis [6]

Appendectomy (Surgery to remove the appendix)

The surgery is normally performed using 3 small incisions (each ¼ to ½ inch) known as laparoscopy. During the laparoscopy, the surgeon inserts special surgical tools and a video camera inside the abdomen to remove the appendix.

This surgery helps you recover faster and you may return to normal activities in 2 to 3 weeks. Strenuous activity can be done within 4 to 6 weeks.

If your appendix has ruptured and the infection has spread to other parts of the abdomen, you may require an open appendectomy, which allows the surgeon to clean the abdominal activity. In this case, you will have to spend more time in the hospital to recover.

Lifestyle Changes To Recover Faster From Appendicitis

  • Avoid strenuous activity for 10 to 14 days
  • Sleep when you feel tired
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Go for a gentle walk every day

Prevention Of Appendicitis

One can't prevent appendicitis, but you can include high-fibre foods into your diet to lower the risk of appendicitis.

View Article References
  1. [1] Sartelli, M., Baiocchi, G. L., Di Saverio, S., Ferrara, F., Labricciosa, F. M., Ansaloni, L., ... & Agboola, J. (2018). Prospective observational study on acute appendicitis worldwide (POSAW).World Journal of Emergency Surgery,13(1), 19.
  2. [2] Crabbe, M. M., Norwood, S. H., Robertson, H. D., & Silva, J. S. (1986). Recurrent and chronic appendicitis.Surgery, gynecology & obstetrics,163(1), 11-13.
  3. [3] Tantarattanapong, S., & Arwae, N. (2018). Risk factors associated with perforated acute appendicitis in geriatric emergency patients.Open access emergency medicine : OAEM,10, 129–134.
  4. [4] IAMARINO, A. P., Juliano, Y., ROSA, O., Novo, N. F., FAVARO, M. D. L., JÚNIOR, R., & FONTENELLE, M. A. (2017). Risk factors associated with complications of acute appendicitis.Revista do Colégio Brasileiro de Cirurgiões,44(6), 560-566.
  5. [5] Puylaert, J. B., Rutgers, P. H., Lalisang, R. I., de Vries, B. C., van der Werf, S. D., Dörr, J. P., & Blok, R. A. (1987). A prospective study of ultrasonography in the diagnosis of appendicitis.New England Journal of Medicine,317(11), 666-669.
  6. [6] Prystowsky, J. B., Pugh, C. M., & Nagle, A. P. (2005). Appendicitis.Current problems in surgery,42(10), 694-742.
Story first published: Friday, June 14, 2019, 11:23 [IST]
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