Appendicitis is a common problem where the appendix gets swollen and inflamed. It’s important to know about it so you can spot the signs and get help quickly.
What is Appendicitis?
Inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that extends from the colon on the right side of the lower abdomen, is known as appendicitis. Pain in the lower right abdomen is one of its common symptom. However, for the vast majority of people, stomach pain radiates outward from the navel.
The most common first symptom is pain around the belly button. This pain then shifts to the lower right abdomen as the appendix gets more inflamed. This moving pain is a key sign of this condition.
As the appendix irritation gets worse, the pain becomes constant and more severe. It usually reaches its worst within 48 hours. Coughing, sudden movements, or pushing on the abdomen makes the pain worse. A swollen appendix may also be felt as a firm lump in the lower right belly.
Other common symptoms that happen along with the abdominal pain are:
- Poor appetite
- Throwing up
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bloating and gas pain
Some people have vague stomach discomfort and upset first before the localized appendicitis pain starts. Even with mild symptoms, seeing a doctor quickly is important. The convenience of online doctor consultations makes it easier to get medical guidance fast. Doctors can evaluate symptoms online and recommend in-person care if seems likely.
What are the common causes?
Appendicitis can be triggered by different factors causing blockage in the appendix. One common cause is when hardened stool builds up in the appendix, blocking the passage and promoting bacterial growth, which leads to inflammation and infection.
Another factor is the overgrowth of lymphatic tissue in the appendix, which can narrow or block the opening, resulting in inflammation. In some cases, foreign objects or parasites can find their way into the appendix, causing a blockage and leading to irritation, inflammation, and related symptoms.
In some cases, injury or trauma to the abdomen can injure the appendix and lead to inflammation. Even repetitive injury from intense physical activity like running long distances has been associated with it in rare instances.
Doctor’s diagnoses is based on a medical history, physical exam, lab tests, and potential imaging studies. Localized tenderness in the right lower abdomen is an important sign.
Blood tests check for elevated white blood cell count, indicating infection. Urine analysis rules out kidney issues. Imaging like abdominal ultrasounds or CT scans may visualize an enlarged appendix.
Distinguishing appendicitis from other causes of abdominal pain can be challenging. Doctors consider ovarian disorders, gastritis, bowel obstruction, and more in the diagnosis.
Complications of Appendicitis
If it is not treated promptly, it can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications. That’s why it’s so important to seek medical care as soon as symptoms arise.
One major complication is a ruptured appendix. This happens when the inflamed appendix bursts, spilling bacteria and contents into the abdominal cavity. This can cause dangerous infections throughout the body known as sepsis or septic shock. Urgent surgery and strong antibiotics are needed to contain the spread of infection.
Another complication is the formation of abscesses. Pus and fluid can build up in areas around the appendix or other parts of the abdomen. Drainage procedures or additional surgeries may be required to treat these.
Some patients develop peritonitis, which is inflammation of the abdominal lining. This is a medical emergency requiring hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and intensive care. Scar tissue or adhesions can also occur after the surgery, which may cause bowel obstructions later.
Hernias are another potential longer-term complication. The key is early diagnosis and intervention through the care of knowledgeable medical professionals like those available at our clinics. Don’t hesitate to look for a GP nearby, you can do Online GP Registration from our website for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Exploring the Treatment Options
Once appendicitis is diagnosed, surgery is usually needed to remove the inflamed appendix. This is done by making a few small cuts in the belly instead of one big one. The doctor inserts a tiny camera and tools through the small cuts to take it out. This type of surgery leads to less pain, faster healing, and lower chance of infection compared to open surgery with a large cut.
If it has burst or formed an abscess, open surgery may be required to drain infection. Before and after surgery, patients stay in the hospital for monitoring, IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain management. This helps stabilize them and prevent dangerous complications.
In some early mild cases, antibiotics may be tried along with rest. However, appendectomy is often still needed if symptoms persist or worsen. After surgery, patients receive antibiotics and gradually resume normal activities over several weeks. An appendectomy is the most common and definitive treatment, alternative approaches may be reasonable to consider in certain situations.
Are There Ways to Prevent it?
While appendicitis often occurs suddenly, there are some things that may help reduce the risk of developing this painful inflammatory condition.
Getting enough fiber in the diet from sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils can help prevent constipation and buildup of hardened stool in the appendix, which is a common cause of obstruction. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids daily also keeps the bowels and digestive system functioning well.
Being aware of the early signs and symptoms allows timely diagnosis and medical care if it does occur. Educating children and family members on detecting initial symptoms can facilitate rapid treatment but if you detect any of these symptoms in your children or any family member, you can have an online doctor consultation to facilitate you in the diagnosis and treatment of appendicitis.
Seeking timely medical evaluation for abdominal pain allows for prompt intervention, often surgically, to prevent rupture and dangerous effects. Healthy lifestyle measures may help reduce risks. Early diagnosis and appropriate urgent care guided by knowledgeable professionals leads to optimal outcomes.
We offer online GP registration that can help further assess your symptoms and provide guidance on next steps for proper diagnosis and treatment.