Appendicitis happens when your appendix becomes inflamed. It can be acute or chronic.
In the United States, appendicitis is the most common trusted Source cause of abdominal pain resulting in surgery. Over 5 percent trusted Source of Americans experienced it at some point in their lives.
If left untreated, appendicitis can cause your appendix to burst. This can cause bacteria to spill into your abdominal cavity, which can be serious and sometimes fatal.
Read on to learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of appendicitis.
What is appendicitis?
Your appendix is a finger-sized tube located where the large and small intestines connect. It has no known function, but if it gets inflamed or infected (appendicitis), you’ll need immediate treatment.
An inflamed appendix may cause pain off and on. Or it may burst open (rupture), causing sudden, severe pain. A ruptured appendix can spread bacteria through the abdominal cavity. These bacteria trigger a serious, sometimes-fatal infection called peritonitis.
What are the causes of Appendicitis?
It’s not always clear what causes appendicitis, and while there seems to be some correlation with a family history, there’s no way to know if or when you might get appendicitis. (7,8) The condition often arises from one of two issues: A gastrointestinal infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal) that has spread to the appendix (9) or an obstruction that blocks the opening of the appendix. (10)
In the second case, there can be several different sources of blockage. These include:
Lymph tissue in the wall of the appendix that has become enlarged
Hardened stool, parasites, or other growths
Irritation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract
Abdominal injury or trauma
Foreign objects, such as pins, stones, or bullets
Air pollution has also been linked to an increased risk of appendicitis. Scientists suspect that high levels of ozone might increase inflammation in the intestine or increase susceptibility to infection.
What Symptoms of appendicitis
Sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen
Sudden pain that begins around your navel and often shifts to your lower right abdomen
Pain that worsens if you cough, walk or make other jarring movements
Nausea and vomiting
Loss of appetite
Low-grade fever that may worsen as the illness progresses
Constipation or diarrhea
The site of your pain may vary, depending on your age and the position of your appendix. When you’re pregnant, the pain may seem to come from your upper abdomen because your appendix is higher during pregnancy.
Lifestyle and home remedies :
Expect a few weeks of recovery from an appendectomy, or longer if your appendix burst. To help your body heal:
Avoid strenuous activity at first. If your appendectomy was done laparoscopically, limit your activity for three to five days. If you had an open appendectomy, limit your activity to 10 to 14 days. Always ask your doctor about limitations on your activity and when you can resume normal activities after surgery.
Support your abdomen when you cough. Place a pillow over your abdomen and apply pressure before you cough, laugh or move to help reduce pain.
Call your doctor if your pain medications aren’t helping. Being in pain puts extra stress on your body and slows the healing process. If you’re still in pain despite your pain medications, call your doctor.
Get up and move when you’re ready. Start slowly and increase your activity as you feel up to it. Start with short walks.
Sleep when tired. As your body heals, you may find that you feel sleepier than usual. Take it easy and rest when you need to.
Discuss returning to work or school with your doctor. You can return to work when you feel up to it. Children may be able to return to school less than a week after surgery. They should wait two to four weeks to resume strenuous activity, such as gym classes or sports.
What is the treatment for appendicitis?
Appendicitis is almost always treated as an emergency. Surgery to remove the appendix, which is called an appendectomy, is the standard treatment for almost all cases of appendicitis.
Generally, if your doctor suspects that you have appendicitis, they will quickly remove it to avoid a rupture. If you have an abscess, you may get two procedures: one to drain the abscess of pus and fluid, and a later one to take out the appendix. But some research shows that treating acute appendicitis with antibiotics may help you avoid surgery.