Contributed by: Healthians Team
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is a condition that occurs when the appendix (a finger-shaped organ attached to the large intestine near the lower right side of the abdomen) gets inflamed, swells, or develops an abscess, all of which can lead to severe abdominal pain. The purpose of this organ is to provide protection to the good and healthy bacteria that live inside the gut, against infection. Good bacteria aids in digestion and infection resistance in the body. Surgery may be the only option as a remedy to alleviate appendicitis.
What is the main cause of appendicitis?
In order to examine the symptoms and causes of appendicitis, it is crucial to understand where the pain is. It is believed that a blockage or obstruction in the appendix may be the reason that results in the buildout of appendicitis in the human body.
This blockage or obstruction can take place based on any of the following reasons:
- If a stomach infection moves to the appendix
- If a hard stool is stuck in the place of connection between the appendix and large intestine
- Any traumatic injury to the abdomen
- A tumor in the appendix
- Contamination of the digestive tract
- Inflammatory bowel disease or abnormal growth in the appendix
- Irritation or ulcer in the gastrointestinal tract
- Enlarged lymph tissues in the wall of the appendix
- Presence of any foreign material in the body
The blockage in the appendix gives rise to the formation of unwanted bacteria that keeps on multiplying itself which results in the growth of inflammation and pus in the appendix.
Symptoms of appendicitis
Appendicitis symptoms can appear suddenly and worsen quickly, triggering serious health problems. The pain of appendicitis begins in the upper region of the abdomen (near the belly button) and progresses to the lower right corner.
Experts advise seeking medical help as soon as possible if you see any of the following appendicitis reasons:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen belly
- Abdominal pain that hurts more while coughing, sneezing, inhaling, or making any physical movement
- Fever below 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- inability to pass gas
- Pain and difficulty in peeing
- Urinary tract infection
Anyone who has symptoms of appendicitis should seek medical help right away and avoid using laxatives (medicines to treat constipation), heating pads, antacids, or enema (a clinical treatment to empty the bowel for medical administration) because it can intensify the pain and cause the organ to burst, causing serious damage to the body.
How appendicitis is diagnosed?
Appendicitis cannot be diagnosed with a single test. Although, based on the patient’s medical history, description of the prodrome (early symptom), and physical examination, the doctor may advise some of the following tests to ascertain appendicitis symptoms.
- Complete blood count (CBC): CBC is a diagnostic process in which a patient’s blood sample is collected to examine for infection.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan involves using a rotating X-ray machine and a computer to obtain detailed information about the abdomen. It allows the doctor to see cross-sections of the body.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound is used to obtain abdominal images and videos which are then displayed on a computer screen which the doctor looks into to check for complications. This process involves using high-frequency sound waves and is safe and painless.
- Urine test: The doctor will collect the patient’s urine sample for urinalysis (urine analysis). This test is conducted to check for urine infection or kidney stones that may be a leading reason for appendicitis.
- Magnetic resonance technique (MRI): An MRI is conducted to generate images of the abdomen to inspect the appendix. This process involves using strong magnetic and radio waves.
How is appendicitis treated?
Appendicitis is usually treated by an appendectomy, which is a procedure that removes the appendix. This entails removing the appendix from the belly and protecting the body from appendicitis-related illnesses.
The surgery involved in the appendectomy process is:
In this process, a surgeon will make a small incision in the abdomen of the patient and insert a tube with a tiny camera and a light mounted on it to get a clear view of the abdominal cavity. The surgeon will then use surgical instruments to remove the appendix from the body.
In some cases, if the appendicitis is ruptured and is causing infection to other organs, the surgeon may perform open surgery. This involves making a slightly longer cut in the abdomen to clean the abdominal cavity. The open surgery can take place if there is:
- Pus in the appendix
- An infection due to ruptured appendix
- Presence of tumor in the digestive tract
If the appendix is infected but hasn’t ruptured, the doctor will start an antibiotic treatment before performing surgery to extract the pus with a needle.
How long is the recovery time for appendicitis?
Usually, a patient can get back to the normal routine within a few weeks after the surgery. However, it is suggested to consult the doctor before making any decision.