Appendicitis is caused when your appendix, a finger-shaped tube on the side of the large intestine, gets infected or inflamed. The appendix is located on the lower right-hand corner of the abdomen.
While appendicitis is common and can be fixed with relative ease, it can escalate into complications quickly if not treated on time. Problems can arise in treating appendicitis when patients delay a visit to the hospital mistaking symptoms for a stomach upset or any other gastrointestinal ailment.
Appendicitis causes pain in the lower right abdomen where it is located. In most cases, this pain will begin around the belly button area and gradually extend further towards the right hand side of the abdomen. With time, appendicitis pain can become very severe.
Appendicitis may be caused when a blockage (generally stool, foreign matter, another infection, or cancer) in the appendix leads to inflammation and subsequently infection. During the infection, bacteria can multiply rapidly, hurting the appendix and causing pus to form. Untreated appendicitis can cause the appendix to burst or rupture.
Appendicitis can affect anyone, though it is most common in individuals between 10 and 30 years of age.
Understanding these symptoms is important because they start off as symptoms, intensifying as time passes by. One must look out for:
Sometimes, the pain you experience may start a little higher in the abdomen depending on the position of your appendix. For example, in pregnant women, pain can start from the upper abdomen as the appendix is pushed a little higher during pregnancy.
It is important to avoid consuming medication such as painkillers, antacids, laxatives, or use heating pads if you suspect symptoms of appendicitis as they may cause the appendix to rupture.
While these symptoms could also be indicative of other ailments that affect the gastrointestinal tract, it is best to practice caution and see a doctor without delay.
If left untreated, appendicitis can cause serious complications that can prove fatal. It is imperative to get to an emergency room on time, especially if your symptoms are getting worse. You might suffer:
Ruptured appendix: When your appendix ruptures, the infection can spread to the rest of your abdominal cavity. This is dangerous and can turn fatal if not immediately cleaned out through surgery and antibiotics.
Pus in the abdomen: Appendicitis can cause an abscess or a painful collection of pus to form. This pus can then spread to your abdominal cavity.
If you have appendicitis, your doctor will generally recommend an Appendectomy, which is surgery to remove the appendix. In order to do this, they will make incisions in the abdomen through which surgical instruments will be inserted. Your appendix will then be removed. Open surgery is recommended when the appendix has ruptured or if access to the appendix is difficult.
In order to treat an abscess, your doctor will drain it with the help of a tube that goes through the abdominal wall. This tube will be kept for about two weeks until all the pus clears. You will be given antibiotics to help fight the infection. You will need to have surgery to remove the appendix once the infection has passed.
You will take a few weeks to recover from such surgery and will typically have to avoid tedious activity and lifting for a while.