Appendicitis Symptoms & Treatment: Appendicitis is a condition in which your appendix becomes infected with bacteria and becomes inflamed. It can occur due to various reasons, the most common one being bacterial infection. The Appendix is a finger-like organ attached to the large intestine.
This organ does not have any known function in the human body thus it is known as a vestigial organ. If it gets infected and becomes inflamed then you will require surgery to get it removed. It is a common condition and can affect anyone in any age group. If your appendix gets blocked then bacteria can get lodged into it and multiply there.
This will lead to the formation of pus and if it is not treated in time it can even cause your appendix to burst thus spreading the bacteria into your abdominal cavity. This can lead to a serious infection which can even become fatal to the patient. Appendicitis is usually recognised in its early stages so that it does not develop into a fatal infection.
Your Appendix is located in the right lower abdomen and it does not perform any known function. It has been theorised that it served a purpose in early human beings but with evolution its function disappeared and now it is merely a pouch that hangs to your large intestine.
Appendicitis can develop due to a blockage in the supply of the Appendix which can allow the bacteria to grow. It usually affects people in the age group of 10 to 30 years of age however older or younger people may also develop this condition. The patients usually present with pain in their lower abdomen and the area over the appendix is also painful to touch.
This is usually the first stage and the common treatment method is surgical removal of the Appendix. The following article will give you all the details regarding Appendicitis, its symptoms, causes, diagnostic methods, complications, treatment and prevention methods of Appendicitis.
Types of Appendicitis
Appendicitis can be of two main types- Acute and Chronic based on the time it has stayed in the patient.
- Acute Appendicitis- Acute Appendicitis is the development of sudden and intense pain in the right lower abdomen of the patient. The pain develops suddenly and intensifies over a period of 24 hours. It is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. The common treatment method of this condition is surgical removal of the appendix.
- Chronic Appendicitis- It is less common than Acute Appendicitis. The patient may experience mild lower abdomen pain in the right side but it usually does not lead to any concerns. The pain may reoccur over a period of weeks, months or even years. This is harder to diagnose as the pain is not as excruciating as in acute appendicitis. Sometimes it is diagnosed only when it develops into acute appendicitis. This is a more serious condition than acute appendicitis.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
Appendicitis can present a variety of symptoms but the most common one among that is abdominal pain. All the symptoms of Appendicitis are given below.
- Sudden and intense pain in the right lower abdomen.
- Sudden and intense pain which radiates towards the naval and to the right side of the lower abdomen.
- Coughing, walking or jogging worsens the pain.
- Low fever along with constipation or diarrhoea.
- Severe pain which wakes you up from your sleep.
- Abdominal Bloating
- Loss of Appetite
- Indigestion or Vomiting
Causes of Appendicitis
Appendicitis usually occurs due the blockage in the lining of the appendix. The bacteria gets lodged in this blockage and grows here which causes inflammation in the appendix. There are many reasons which can lead to a blockage in your appendix.
- Prolonged Constipation
- Enlarged Lymphoid follicles
- Intestinal worms
- Injury to the lower abdomen
There are many risk factors affecting the onset of Appendicitis in the patients.
- Age- Usually the people in the age group of 10 to 30 years of age are affected by this condition.
- Family history- If someone in your family had Appendicitis then you are also at the risk of developing it. You should get regular family checkups in order to prevent it.
- Gender- It has been reported that males are more at the risk of developing appendicitis than females of the same age group.
Diagnosis of Appendicitis
There is no single test available which can confirm the diagnosis of Appendicitis. If your doctor suspects that you may have Appendicitis then they will get your medical history and the history of your symptoms.
Then they will perform physical tests to check for the tenderness of the lower abdomen. Your doctor will also perform the following tests in order to rule out other conditions.
- Blood Tests- This test will confirm if there is any infection in your body as the Total Leucocyte Count (TLC) will be elevated in your blood. Appendicitis is usually accompanied by a bacterial infection thus confirming the diagnosis.
- Urine Test- This will be conducted to rule out Urinary Tract Infection or Kidney Stones as the possible cause of your symptoms.
- Pregnancy Test- An Ectopic pregnancy may also lead to pain in the lower abdomen. In this case the fertilised egg gets implanted on the fallopian tube instead of the uterine wall thus leading to pain. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
- Abdominal Imaging- The doctor may perform X-ray, Ultrasound or CT scans in order to confirm the diagnosis of Appendicitis. This will also show the extent of the inflammation and the size of the inflamed appendix.
- Pelvic Exam- Your doctor may also perform a pelvic exam in order to rule out Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which also causes the same symptoms as Appendicitis.
- Chest Imaging and Tests- Your doctor may also suspect Pneumonia in the lower lobes of the lungs. This condition also leads to the development of the same symptoms as that of Appendicitis.
Treatment of Appendicitis
The best treatment option for Appendicitis is surgical removal of your Appendix. Before proceeding with the surgery your doctor will follow the following methods to relieve your symptoms.
- Pain medications to decrease your pain.
- If your abscess (bacterial pus filled pouch) has not ruptured then your doctor will perform a drainage of the abscess using a needle.
- A liquid diet or an IV drip will be administered to you so that you get the required nutrients.
- If you have mild appendicitis then your doctor will only give you antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
The doctor will then perform an Appendectomy to remove the infected abscess and your Appendix. If your abscess has ruptured then the doctor will also clean the abdominal cavity. Your doctor may use a minimally invasive laparoscopic or an open surgery depending on your condition. The surgery is usually safe and poses no threat to the life of the patient.
After the surgery, your doctor may still prescribe you pain medication and antibiotics. You may also be advised to take a mild walk during the day and to keep your surgical scar clean at all times. You will need to take a complete bed rest and avoid any kind of strenuous activity.
Complications of Appendicitis
If your Appendicitis is not treated on time then you may develop many serious complications. These may include-
- Sepsis- Sepsis is a serious medical emergency in which the bacterial infection enters the bloodstream and can affect other organs as well. Sepsis can be identified by shortness of breath, fatigue, lethargy and high or low temperature of the body. It can damage your organs and can even cause death if not treated on time.
- Peritonitis- It occurs when the abscess filled with bacterial pus and debris ruptures filling your abdominal cavity with these materials. This can lead to the spread of infection to your stomach, liver or other organs.
- Abscess- They form when there is uncontrolled growth of bacteria in the body. They are a painful pocket-like structure filled with bacterial pus. They can lead to discomfort during walking and other activities. Strenuous activities can also lead to the rupture of these abscesses thus spilling the pus in your body.
Prevention of Appendicitis
Appendicitis can be prevented by various lifestyle changes and diet modifications. You can find the preventive measures for Appendicitis below.
- Include Fruits in your diet- Eating all kinds of fruits will keep you body healthy and will also maintain your immunity. This will also improve your bowel movement thus preventing constipation.
- Eat High fibre Diet- Include high fibre foods in your diet such as Oats, Whole wheat and brown rice.
- Include legumes and pulses in your diet- Make sure that you take legumes or lentils in your meals at least once a week. This will improve the health of your gastrointestinal tract.
- Avoid Strenuous activity- If you have recently suffered from appendicitis then you should avoid strenuous activities so that you do not cause any damage to the surgical stitches.
- Look out for symptoms of the disease- If you feel any discomfort in your lower abdomen then do not ignore these symptoms and go to your doctor immediately for a faster diagnosis and treatment.
FAQs Related to Appendicitis
Appendicitis usually begins as pain in your lower abdomen on the right side. You can also experience fever, constipation and abdominal bloating along with the pain. The pain does not go away and intensifies to an extent that you will need to go to your doctor immediately.
The most common and effective way of treating appendicitis is Appendectomy. It is the surgical removal of your appendix and all the pus filled in it.
Appendicitis occurs as a result of blockage in the lining of the Appendix. This allows bacteria to grow in it as it provides a nutrition filled environment for the bacteria. This leads to the development of pus and abscess in the Appendix thus leading to inflammation. This condition is known as Appendicitis.