Appendicitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix gets inflamed. It can be acute or chronic.

In the USA, appendicitis is the most common due to abdominal pain which results in surgery. More than 5 percent American people experience this at least once in their lives.

The apendicitis can explode your appendix if left untreated. This can lead to bacteria leaking into your abdominal cavity, which can be serious and sometimes fatal.

Appendicitis symptoms

For appendicitis, the following symptoms may be present:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • constipation
  • pain in the upper abdominal area or around the umbilical region.
  • pain in the lower right abdominal region.
  • loss of appetite
  • abdominal swelling
  • difficult to pass the gas.
  • low-grade fever

Appendicitis can begin by a mild cramp such as pain. It is usually more stable and serious over time. It may start in the upper part of your abdomen or as a result of umbilical, then spreads to the lower right part of your abdomen.

If you suffer from constipation and realize you may have appendicitis, do not take laxatives or use an enema. Such treatments can break your appendix.

Call your doctor if you feel tenderness on the right side of your abdomen with one of the other symptoms of appendicitis. Appendicitis may suddenly develop into a medical emergency.

Appendicitis causes

In lot of cases, the exact reason for appendicitis is unclear. Experts believe it is developing as a result of any obstruction or blockage in the appendix.

Many things are likely to block your appendix, like:

  • traumatic injury
  • tumors
  • the build-up of hardened stools.
  • enlargement of lymphoid follicles.
  • intestinal worms

When your appendix is blocked or obstructed, bacteria can develop internally. This can lead to pus and swelling forming, which creates painful pressure in your abdomen.

Tests for appendicitis

If your physician suspects that you may have appendicitis, they will conduct a physical examination. They will verify whether there is sensitivity in the lower right part of your abdomen and swelling or stiffness is present or not.

Based on your physical test results, your doctor may carry out one or more tests to verify the signs of appendicitis or discover other possible causes of your symptoms.

A single test for the diagnosis of appendicitis does not exist. If your doctor cannot find another reason for your apprehension of symptoms, They have the ability to diagnose the cause of appendicitis.

Complete blood count

To detect signs of infection, your doctor may recommend a full blood count (CBC). To carry out this test, they will collect a sample from your blood and send it to a laboratory for analysis.

Appendicitis is often caused by bacterial infection. A urinary tract infection (UTIs) or other abdominal organs can also cause similar symptoms like apendicitis.

Urine tests

To rule out urinary tract infection or renal stones as a possible cause for your symptoms, Your doctor can conduct a urinalysis. That is also called a urinalysis (urin) test.

Your doctor will request your urine sample, which will be examined in the lab.

Pregnancy test

Ectopic pregnancy may be confused with appendix. It occurs when implantation of fertilised ova occurs outside the uterus, as in the fallopian tubes. There may be a medical emergency.

If your doctor thinks you might have an ectopic pregnancy, he may conduct a pregnancy test. To carry out this test, they will take a sample from your urine or blood. They can also use transvaginal ultrasound to determine where the fertilized egg has been implanted.

Pelvic exam

If you are a woman, your symptoms may be caused by pelvic inflammation disease (PID), an ovarian cyst or disease that affects your reproductive organs.

Your doctor can conduct a pelvic examination to assess your reproductive organs.

In this test, they will look visually at your vagina, vulva and cervix. They will also conduct a manual examination of the uterus and ovaries. A tissue sample can be collected for testing purposes.

Abdominal imaging tests

To assess how inflamed your appendix, Your doctor may want to do some imaging test on your abdomen. It may also help them discover other possible causes for your symptoms, such as abdominal abscess or faecal shock.

Your physician may perform any of the following imaging tests:

  • abdominal X-ray
  • abdominal CT scan
  • abdominal ultrasound
  • abdominal MRI scan

In certain cases, you may need to stop eating food for a period of time before your test.

Chest imaging tests

The symptoms of pneumonia in the right lower lobe of your chest are similar to those of appendicitis.

If your physician suspects that you may have pneumonia, they will likely carry out a chest x-ray. They can also do a CT scan to get a detailed look at your lungs.

Can your doctor use an ultrasound to diagnose appendicitis?

If your doctor thinks you could have appendicitis, he can do an abdominal ultrasound. This imaging test can help them to look at signs of inflammation, abscess or pus formation and other complications with your appendix.

Your doctor may also carry out additional imaging tests such as computed tomography or ultrasound that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of your organs, while a CT scan uses electromagnetic radiation.

In comparison to an ultrasound, a computed tomography allows you to create brief images of your organs. While there are certain health risks associated with radiation exposure from CT scans. Your doctor may help you understand the advantages and risks of various imaging tests.

Treatment options for appendicitis

Based on your symptoms or health, Your doctor may recommend a plan to treat appendicitis, which may include one or more of the following:

  • antibiotics
  • pain relievers
  • IV fluids
  • surgery for the removal of your appendix.
  • needle or surgical drainage to drain the abscess.
  • liquid diet

Rarely, appendicitis can improve without surgery. But in most cases, you will need surgical intervention to remove the appendix. It’s called the appendectomy.

If you have an abscess that hasn’t burst, your doctor may cure the abscess before you go for the appendicectomy. As a treatment, they’ll give you antibiotics. Then a needle will be used to drain the pus.

Surgery for appendicitis

To deal with appendicitis, your doctor may use a type of surgery called an appendectomy. Over the course of this process, they will completely remove your appendix. If your appendix has broken, they will also clean your abdomen.

In some cases, your doctor can use laparoscopy for mini-invasive surgery. In other cases, they may need to carry out an open surgical procedure to remove your appendix.

As with any other surgical procedure, appendectomy also presents certain risks. However, there is a lower risk for appendicectomy than for untreated appendicitis.

Acute appendicitis

Acute appendicitis is a severely and rapidly occurring form of appendicitis. Symptoms tend to grow rapidly over a period of one to two days.

Urgent medical treatment is required for acute apendicitis. Your appendix may burst unless treated in time. It may be serious and life-threatening.

Acute appendicitis is more frequent or common compared to chronic appendicitis.

Chronic appendicitis

There are comparatively fewer cases of chronic appendicitis. With chronic appendicitis, symptoms can be relatively benign. They may disappear again within weeks, months or even years.

This kind of appendicitis may prove difficult to diagnose. Sometimes it is only diagnosed when it becomes severe appendicitis.

Appendicitis in kids

Approximately 70,000 children suffer from appendicitis each year in the U.S. However, it is the most common among people aged 15-30 years, it may develop at any age.

In children and youth, appendicitis often causes gastric pain around the umbilicus. This pain can slowly get worse and move down the right side of your abdomen.

Additional symptoms in your child are:

  • loss of appetite
  • fever or raised temperature.
  • feeling of nausea
  • vomiting

If your child is showing symptoms of appendicitis, check with your doctor.

Recovery time for appendicitis

How long you recover from appendicitis will depend on several factors, including:

  • your overall medical condition.
  • what are the complications caused by appendicitis or surgery?
  • the specific type of treatment you are receiving.

If you undergo laparoscopy surgery to remove your appendix, You can be released from the hospital within a few hours of completing the surgery.

If you are undergoing an open surgical procedure, you will likely need to spend more time in the hospital to fully recover. Open surgery is more invasive than laparoscopy surgery and usually requires more post-operative care.

Prior to leaving the hospital, your health care professional can help you take care of your incisions. They can refer you to antibiotics or analgesics to help you recover. They may also suggest that you improve your diet, avoid strenuous or challenging activities, or make other changes to your daily routine during recovery.

It can take several weeks to complete your recovery from appendicitis and surgery. If you develop any complications, recovery can take longer.

Appendicitis in pregnancy

Acute appendicitis is the most commonly used nonobstetric emergency surgery during pregnancy. This affects around 0.04 to 0.2% of pregnant women.

Symptoms of appendicitis can be confused with routine discomfort during pregnancy. Pregnancy may also cause your appendix to move upwards through your abdomen, which may affect the position of the pain associated with appendicitis. This may make diagnosis challenging.

Treatment options during pregnancy can include any of the following:

  • surgery for the removal of your appendix.
  • needle or surgical drainage for an abscess.
  • antibiotics

Delayed diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications such as miscarriage.

Potential complications of appendicitis

There are serious complications associated with appendicitis. For example, it may form a pus sac called an abscess to form within your appendix. This abscess can take the pus and bacteria out of your abdominal cavity.

Appendicitis can also cause breakage of the appendix. If your appendix bursts, it may release faeces and bacteria in your abdominal cavity.

If bacteria are released into your abdominal cavity, it can result in infection and inflammation of the wall of your abdominal cavity. This is known as peritonitis, which may be very serious and life-threatening.

Bacterial infections may also occur in other parts of the abdomen. For instance, bacteria from a ruptured abscess or appendix can enter your bladder or colon and cause infection. It can also travel through your bloodstream into other parts of your body.

To prevent or manage these complications, your doctor may recommend antibiotics, surgery or other treatments. In some cases, medication may cause side effects or complications. Although, the risks of taking antibiotics and surgery tend to be less severe and more secure than any possible complications of untreated appendicitis.

Preventing appendicitis

There’s no way we can stop appendicitis. But you may be able to reduce your development risk by taking a fibre-rich diet. However, the more research is needed on the potential role of diet, the less frequent appendicitis in countries where people take diets rich in fiber.

The fiber-rich foods are:

  • brown rice, whole wheat,
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • lentils, split peas, beans, and other legumes
  • oatmeal, barley and other whole grains

Your physician may also advise you to take a fibre supplement.

Risk factors for appendicitis

Appendicitis has the potential to affect anyone. But some people can be more likely to develop that condition than others. These risk factors for appendicitis consist of:

  • Age: Appendicitis generally affects people across the ages of 15 and 30 years old.
  • Sex: Appendicitis is most commonly found in males than females.
  • Family history: Persons with a family history of appendicitis have a higher risk of developing appendicitis.

Even though more research is needed, low-fibre diets can also increase the risk of appendicitis.

 Types of appendicitis

Appendicitis may be acute and chronic. In acute appendicitis, the symptoms are more common and develop rapidly. In chronic cases, the symptoms may be milder and may come and go on many days, weeks, months, or even years.

The condition may also be simple or difficult. For simple appendicitis, there are no complications. Complex cases involve complications, such as the development of an abscess or failure of the appendix.

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