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Appendicitis: Silent Causes and Symptoms

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from the colon on the lower right side of the abdomen.

Appendicitis causes pain in the lower right abdomen. However, in most people, the pain begins around the belly button and then travels. As the inflammation worsens, the pain from appendicitis usually increases and eventually becomes severe.

Although anyone can get appendicitis, it most often occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30. The standard treatment is surgical removal of the appendix.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of appendicitis may include:

  • Sudden pain that starts in the right side of the lower abdomen
  • Sudden pain that begins around the belly button and often travels to the lower right side of the abdomen
  • Pain that worsens when you cough, walk, or make other sudden movements
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever that may get worse as the disease progresses
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Flatulence

Where you feel pain can vary, depending on your age and the position of your appendix. During pregnancy, the pain seems to come from the upper abdomen because the appendix is higher during pregnancy.

Make an appointment with a doctor if you or your child have worrisome signs or symptoms. Severe abdominal pain requires immediate medical attention.

Causes

The probable cause of appendicitis is a blockage in the lining of the appendix that results in infection. Bacteria multiply rapidly, causing the appendix to become inflamed, swollen, and filled with pus. If not treated right away, the appendix can rupture.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications, for example:

  • Perforation of the appendix. This can cause the infection to spread to the abdomen (peritonitis). This disease can be life-threatening and immediate surgery is needed to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.
  • A collection of pus that forms in the abdomen. If the appendix bursts, it may create a build-up of infection (abscess). In most cases, the surgeon drains the abscess by inserting a tube through the abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube is left in place for about two weeks and the patient is given antibiotics to fight the infection. After the infection is cleared, surgery is done to remove the appendix. In some cases, the abscess is drained and the appendix is removed right away.

Written by J.Andrew

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