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Appendicitis – Signs & Symptoms of Appendicitis – What Causes Appendicitis?

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What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis as the name suggests is the inflammation of the appendix. ‘Appendic’-refers to appendix and ‘itis’ refers to inflammation. In this article, you will learn about signs & symptoms of appendicitis and what causes appendicitis?

causes, signs and symptoms of appendicitis Severe pain of appendicitis in right side of lower abdomen

What is the appendix?

Appendix is a thin tube-like structure attached to the lower part of the caecum (first part of the large intestine). The appendix is considered as a vestigial organ (the organ that’s doesn’t have any function), but new studies suggest it has some role in bowel immunity. Below are the causes of appendicitis after that we will talk about signs and symptoms of gastritis.

What are the causes of appendicitis?

Appendicitis may have multiple causes. The cause is not clear in many cases.

• Classically, it is thought to occur due to blockage of the lumen which leads to stagnation. This in turn results in the multiplication of bacteria causing its inflammation. The appendix becomes swollen and may get filled with pus and in complicated cases may rupture within the abdomen. The cause of blockage of the lumen of the appendix may be due to stone, parasite, or growth.

• Infection in the bowel causing swelling and inflammation of the appendix

• Inflammatory bowel disease

• Abdominal trauma


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Who is more likely to have appendicitis?

Appendicitis is more likely to occur in teenagers and young adults, usually between 10-30 years of age. The chances of appendicitis decrease with increasing age.

It is more likely to occur in people having lots of animal fat and proteins with low fiber content in the food.

What are the signs & symptoms of appendicitis?

The commonest signs & symptom of appendicitis is a pain in the abdomen.

Abdominal pain: is typically sudden, severe, and felt in the lower abdomen on the right side where the appendix is located. In many people, the pain starts first around the area of belly button and then shifts to the right side. It may develop suddenly or gradually worsening over a period of a few minutes to hours. The pain may get worsen with pressure on the site of the appendix, on moving around, taking deep breaths, coughing, or sneezing. A pregnant female may experience pain in the upper part of the abdomen on right side due to displacement of the appendix by an enlarged uterus.

Other signs & symptoms of appendicitis that can accompany pain in the abdomen are:

• Nausea

• Loss of appetite

• Vomiting

• Fever

• Constipation or diarrhea

• Bloating of abdomen

• The feeling to pass stools to relieve discomfort

all the signs & Symptoms of appendicitis can be different for different people

know more…

When to get a doctor’s help?

Appendicitis is a medical emergency that can result in serious abdominal problems. It needs immediate medical care which can provide relief in signs & symptoms of appendicitis and reduce the chances of complications.

A person should contact a doctor immediately or go to the emergency department of a hospital if he or any family member experiences the above-mentioned signs & symptoms of appendicitis.

This becomes more important in a child or pregnant female.

What are the complications of appendicitis?

If not treated in time appendicitis may cause serious complications such as:

• Rupture of appendix leading to peritonitis: Rupture of the inflamed appendix can spread infection in the abdomen resulting in a serious condition called peritonitis. This can become a life-threatening situation where immediate surgery is required to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

• Rupture of the appendix which forms a pus collection localized to the region of appendix.

• Formation of soft tissue inflammatory mass around the appendix.

Sometimes, appendicitis may get resolve on its own. In these cases, the obstruction is temporary and resolves on its own. This may recur when the appendix gets blocked again and is then termed as recurrent appendicitis. The pain typically lasts for 24-48 hrs and subsides spontaneously.

In some cases, if you are facing above signs & symptoms of appendicitis and the pain is less severe and almost continuous lasting for more than 1-2 days and often extending to several weeks, months, or even years. This is called as chronic appendicitis.

know more…

How appendicitis is diagnosed? How a doctor would diagnose appendicitis?

The doctor would suspect appendicitis based on the signs & symptom of appendicitis details and physical examination findings.

1. Signs & Symptoms details and medical history:

2. Lab tests:

3. Imaging tests:

How appendicitis is treated?

The appendicitis is considered as a medical emergency where the chances of burst appendix increase significantly after 24 hours. At most of the places, surgery is considered as the mainstay of the treatment. Antibiotics may also be given to treat an infection or to prevent infection after the surgery.

What is done if the surgeon finds normal appendix during surgery?

In some of the cases strongly suspected with signs & symptoms of appendicitis, the surgeon may find a normal appendix at the time of the surgery. In many of these cases, the surgeon prefers to remove the appendix so as to avoid any chances of appendicitis in the future. While in some cases, the surgeon finds a different pathology and treat it surgically.

How the complication of appendicitis is treated?

The treatment of complications depends on its type.

Burst appendicitis with peritonitis: usually these cases are immediately taken for surgery as peritonitis could lead to death. These patients are taken for laparotomy surgery where the appendix is removed and the peritoneum is cleaned to prevent spread of infection.

Appendiceal abscess: these patients are treated by putting drain/tube in the site of abscess generally before the surgery and sometimes during the surgery. The tube is put through the abdominal wall. It is kept inside for about 2 weeks which drains the abscess gradually over this period while the patient is given antibiotics to treat the infection. After about 6 to 8 weeks when the infection and inflammation are under control the surgeon removes the appendix by surgery.

Can surgery be avoided in cases of appendicitis? Can antibiotics prevent the need for surgery in appendicitis?

Several recent studies suggest that the uncomplicated cases of appendicitis can be treated with antibiotics with most of the people not requiring appendectomy surgery during the first year. Amongst the smaller group of people needing surgery no significant complications were developed during this period. These cases have to be accounted for as uncomplicated cases by means of CT findings.

Late recurrence of appendicitis in these patients even after 5 years is found to be less than 40%. However, the surgical removal of the swollen appendix still remains the mainstay treatment.  And only a few centers prefer to opt for non-surgical treatment presently.

A person must understand and discuss with his doctor the pros and cons of surgical and non-surgical methods before opting for his preferred treatment option.

What are the things to remember during the post-surgery recovery period at home?

1. Restrict doing strenuous physical activity for several days after the surgery:

• Laparoscopic surgery: 3 to 5 days

• Laparotomy surgery: 10 to 14 days.

2. Take a good amount of rest which helps the body to recover.

3. Gradually increase the level of physical activity starting from short walks to doing daily routine work and then strenuous activities like gym or sports over a period of several days to weeks.

4. Discuss with doctor the expected time of recovery, follow up and start of work/job.

5. Inform the doctor if pain medicine is not helpful or you develop any new symptoms like fever, cough, etc.


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