Appendicitis: Signs, symptoms, and treatment
Appendicitis symptoms Signs and treatment
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a small, finger-like tube located where the large and small intestine join. The appendix has no known use in the body.
It is not known why the appendix becomes inflamed in some people. However, when the appendix becomes inflamed, it requires immediate medical attention.
What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
- Pain when touched on the lower right side of the abdomen.
- Abdominal pain or tenderness, usually in the center of the abdomen above the belly button, then shifting to the lower right side of the abdomen. The pain increases when moving, taking deep breaths, coughing, or sneezing.
- Fever, usually low-grade (under 100 degrees).
- Inability to pass gas.
- Abdominal swelling.
- Lack of appetite.
Note: Not everyone will have all of the symptoms.
If you have symptoms of appendicitis, it is important that you do not take laxatives or enemas to relieve constipation. These medications could cause your appendix to burst. You should also avoid taking pain medications that could mask the symptoms the doctor would need to know about to diagnose the condition.
What causes appendicitis?
Appendicitis can have more than one cause, and in many cases, the cause is not clear. Possible causes include:
- Blockage of the opening inside the appendix
- enlarged tissue in the wall of your appendix, caused by an infection in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or elsewhere in your body
- inflammatory bowel disease
- stool, parasites, or growths that can clog your appendiceal lumen
- trauma to your abdomen
Treatment for Appendicitis
How do doctors treat appendicitis?
Doctors typically treat appendicitis with surgery to remove the appendix. Surgeons perform the surgery in a hospital with general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend surgery if you have continuous abdominal pain and fever, or signs of a burst appendix and infection. Prompt surgery decreases the chance that your appendix will burst.
Health care professionals call the surgery to remove the appendix an appendectomy. A surgeon performs the surgery using one of the following methods:
- Laparoscopic surgery. During laparoscopic surgery, surgeons use several smaller incisions and special surgical tools that they feed through the incisions to remove your appendix. Laparoscopic surgery leads to fewer complications, such as hospital-related infections, and has a shorter recovery time.
- Laparotomy. Surgeons use laparotomy to remove the appendix through a single incision in the lower right area of your abdomen.
After surgery, most patients completely recover from appendicitis and don’t need to make changes to their diet, exercise, or lifestyle. Surgeons recommend that you limit physical activity for the first 10 to 14 days after laparotomy and for the first 3 to 5 days after laparoscopic surgery.
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