Appendicitis – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Appendicitis occurs when appendix got inflamed. It has two forms: acute or chronic.

In the United States, appendicitis is the most common reason behind abdominal pain that results in surgery. More than 5 percent of Americans experience it at least once in their lives.

Apendicitis can cause your appendix to burst if not treated. This can cause bacteria to escape into your abdominal cavity, which can be serious and sometimes life threatening.

Appendicitis symptoms

If the condition of appendicitis, following symptoms can be experienced:

Appendicitis pain may start with mild cramp like pain. It usually becomes more steady and severe over time. It may start in your upper abdomen or in umbilical reason, then spreads to the lower right quadrant of your abdomen.

If you have constipation and you find that you may have appendicitis, don’t take laxatives or use an enema. These treatments may lead your appendix to burst.

Call your your doctor if you feel tenderness in the right side of your abdomen along with any of other symptoms of appendicitis. Appendicitis can suddenly become a medical emergency. Get the information you need to recognize this serious condition.

Appendicitis causes

In many cases, the exact cause of appendicitis is not clear . Experts think that it develops because of any obstruction or blockage in the appendix.

Many things can probably block your appendix, such as:

When your appendix becomes blocked or obstructed, bacteria can grow inside it. This can cause to the formation of pus and swelling, which create a painful pressure in your abdomen.

Tests for appendicitis

If your doctor suspects you might have appendicitis, they will do a physical exam. They will check if there is any tenderness in the lower right part of your abdomen and swelling or rigidity is present or not.

On the basis of the outcomes of your physical exam, your doctor may perform one or more tests to check for signs of appendicitis or find out other possible causes of your symptoms.

There is no single test available to diagnose appendicitis. If your doctor can’t find out any other reason behind your appreance of symptoms, they may diagnose the cause as appendicitis.

Complete blood count

To check for signs of infection, your doctor may suggest a complete blood count (CBC)To perform this test, they will take a sample of your blood and send it to a laboratory for it’s analysis.

Appendicitis is often associated with bacterial infection. An infection in your urinary tract (UTIs) or other abdominal organs may also cause similar symptoms as apendicitis.

Urine tests

To exclude urinary tract infection or kidney stones as a possible cause of your symptoms, your doctor may perform urinalysis. This is also called as a urine test.

Your doctor will ask you for your urine sample that will be examined in a laboratory.

Pregnancy test

Ectopic pregnancy can be confused with appendicitis. It happens when implantation of fertilized egg occurs outside the uterus such as in fallopian tube. This can be a medical emergency.

If your doctor feels that you might have an ectopic pregnancy, they may perform a pregnancy test. To perform this test, they will take a sample of your urine or blood. They may also use a transvaginal ultrasound to find out where the fertilized egg has implanted.

Pelvic exam

If you are female, your symptoms might be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease(PID), an ovarian cyst, or another condition affecting your reproductive organs.

To assess your reproductive organs, your doctor may perform a pelvic exam.

During this test, they will visually examine your vagina, vulva, and cervix. They will also manually examine your uterus and ovaries. They may takr a sample of tissue for testing.

Abdominal imaging tests

To assess for inflammation of your appendix, your doctor might perform imaging tests of your abdomen. This can also help them to find out other possible causes of your symptoms, like an abdominal abscess or fecal impaction.

Your doctor may perform one or more of the given imaging tests:

In some cases, might it will be required to stop eating food for a period of time before your test.

Chest imaging tests

Pneumonia in the lower right lobe of your lungs also have symptoms similar to appendicitis.

If your doctor suspects you might have pneumonia, they will probably perform a chest X-ray. They may also perform a CT scan to got a detailed view of your lungs.

Can your doctor use an ultrasound to diagnose appendicitis?

If your doctor feels you might have appendicitis, they may perform an abdominal ultrasound. This imaging test can help them to examine the signs of inflammation, an abscess or pus formation and other complications with your appendix.

Your doctor can also perform other imaging tests such as CT scan or ultrasound which uses high frequency sound waves to create pictures of your organs, while a CT scan uses electromagnetic radiations.

Compared to an ultrasound, a CT scan creates more brief images of your organs. Although, there are some health risks related to radiation exposure from a CT scan. Your doctor can help you know about the possible benefits and risks of different imaging test.

Treatment options for appendicitis

On the basis of symptoms or your condition, your doctor can suggest a treatment plan for appendicitis may include one or more of the following:

In rare cases, appendicitis may can improve without surgery. But in most cases, you will need surgery to remove your appendix. Which is called as an appendectomy.

If you have an abscess that hasn’t ruptured, your doctor may cure that abscess before you going for appendectomy. To treat, they will give you antibiotics. Then they will use a needle for the drainage of pus.

Surgery for appendicitis

To treat appendicitis, your doctor may use a type of surgery known as appendectomy. During this process, they will completely remove your appendix. If your appendix has ruptured they will also clean out your abdominal cavity.

In few cases, your doctor may use laparoscopy to perform minimally invasive surgery. In other cases, they may have to perform open surgery for the removal of your appendix.

Like any other surgeries, appendectomy also have some risks. However, the risks of appendectomy are smaller than the risks of untreated appendicitis. Find out more about the potential risks and benefits of this surgery.

Acute appendicitis

Acute appendicitis is a severe and quick form of appendicitis. The symptoms tend to develop fastly over the duration of one to two days.

Immediate medical treatment is needed in case of acute apendicitis. It can cause your appendix to burst if not treated on time .This can be a serious and life threatening.

Acute appendicitis is more common than chronic appendicitis. 

Chronic appendicitis

Chronic appendicitis is comparatively less common. In chronic cases of appendicitis, the symptoms may be relatively mild. They may disappear before reccuring again over a period of weeks, months, or even years.

This type of appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes, it’s not diagnosed until it develops into acute appendicitis.

Appendicitis in kids

About 70,000 children experience appendicitis every year in the United States. However it’s most common in people between the ages of 15 and 30 years old, it can develop at any age.

In children and teenagers, appendicitis often causes a stomach pain near the umbilicus.This pain may slowly become more severe and move to the lower right side of your the abdomen.

Some other symptoms in your child includes:

  • loss of appetite
  • fever or increased temperature
  • feeling of nausea
  • vomiting

If your child has symptoms of appendicitis, visit their doctor imediately. 

Recovery time for appendicitis

Your recovery time for appendicitis will depend on several factors,which includes:

  • your overall health
  • what are the complications you develop from appendicitis or surgery
  • the specific type of treatments you follow

If you have laparoscopic surgery for the removal of your appendix, you may be discharged from the hospital after few hours of completion of surgery.

If you have open surgery, you will probably require to spend more time in the hospital for complete recovery. Open surgery is more invasive than laparoscopic surgery and usually requires more post surgical care.

Before you leave the hospital, your healthcare provider can help you know how to take care of your incision sites. They may recommend antibiotics or pain killers to help your recovery process. They may also suggest you to improve your diet, avoid energetic or difficult activities or make other changes to your daily habits during your recovery.

It may take several weeks for you to completely recover from appendicitis and surgery. If you develop complications, your recovery may take longer time. 

Appendicitis in pregnancy

Acute appendicitis is the most common non-obstetric emergency needed surgery during pregnancy. It affects an about 0.04 to 0.2 percent of pregnant women.

The symptoms of appendicitis may be confused for routine discomfort from pregnancy. Pregnancy may also cause your appendix to move upward in your abdomen, which can affect the position of appendicitis-related pain. This can make it difficult to diagnose.

Treatment options during pregnancy might include one or more of the following:

Delayed diagnosis and treatment may inhance your risk of complications, including miscarriage.

Potential complications of appendicitis

Appendicitis can cause serious complications. Such as, it may form a sac of pus called as an abscess to form in your appendix. This abscess may discharge pus and bacteria into your abdominal cavity.

Appendicitis can also result in a ruptured appendix. If your appendix bursts, it can release fecal matter and bacteria into your abdominal cavity.

If bacteria is released into your abdominal cavity, it can cause infection and inflammation of the lining of your abdominal cavity. This is called as peritonitis, and it can be very serious,and life threatening.

Bacterial infections can also affect other organs in your abdomen. For example, bacteria from a burst abscess or appendix may enter your bladder or colon and cause infection. It may also go through your bloodstream to other parts of your body.

To prevent or control these complications, your doctor may suggest antibiotics, surgery, or other treatments. In some cases, you might develop side effects or complications from treatment. Although, the risks of taking antibiotics and surgical procedure tend to be less serious and safer than all the possible complications of uncured appendicitis.

Preventing appendicitis

There’s no exact way to prevent appendicitis. But you might be able to reduce your risk of developing it by taking a fiber-rich diet. However, more research is required on the possible role of diet, appendicitis is less common in countries where people take high-fiber diets.

Foods that are high in fiber are:

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

Your doctor may also advice you to take a fiber supplement.

Risk factors for appendicitis

Appendicitis can affect anyone. But some people may be more prone to develop this condition than others. These risk factors for appendicitis include:

Although more research is required, low-fiber diets might also increases the risk of appendicitis.

 Types of appendicitis

Appendicitis can be acute or chronic. In acute cases of appendicitis, the symptoms tend to be morevsevere and develop quickly. In chronic cases, the symptoms may be milder and may come and go over so many days, weeks, months, or even years.

The condition can also be simple or complex. In simple cases of appendicitis, there are no complications. Complex cases include complications, such as an abscess formation or ruptured appendix.

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