Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix that causes severe pain in the lower right side of the abdomen, along with vomiting, fever, nausea, and loss of appetite. The appendix is an organ located on the right side of the belly, which has a direct connection to the intestine and usually ignites when there is feces entering the intestine due to bacteria overgrowth. So, this is something that can happen in any moment of life and the main causes are unknown.
To treat this problem, the appendix should be removed as soon as possible through surgery indicated by the doctor, to avoid more serious complications such as peritonitis. Thus, if appendicitis is suspected, it is very important to go to the hospital to confirm the diagnosis.
How to identify appendicitis symptoms
If you think you may have appendicitis, select your symptoms from the list below of the most common signs to find out your chances:
These symptoms are more common in children and adolescents, but acute appendicitis can occur at any age.
In addition, when the pain lasts for more than a month it is considered chronic appendicitis and is more common from 40 years of age, happening slowly and can decrease by taking of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of appendicitis can be made clinically, through palpation of the area and evaluation of symptoms by a general practitioner or gastroenterologist.
Which tests are used to detect appendicitis
The diagnosis of appendicitis is usually made by the doctor through palpation and evaluation of the referred symptoms. However, to confirm the diagnosis the doctor may also ask for some tests such as:
- Blood test: allows to evaluate the amount of white blood cells, which help confirm the presence of inflammation in the body;
- Urine test: helps confirm that the symptoms are not being caused by a urinary tract infection;
- Abdominal ultrasound or computed tomography: allows to observe the dilation and inflammation of the appendix.
A good way to try to find out at home if it can be appendicitis is to lie with your belly up and then press with one hand on the lower right side of the belly. Then the pressure must be rapidly relieved. If the pain is more intense, there is a good chance of it being appendicitis. If the pain does not change, it may be a sign of another problem. However, it is always important to go to the hospital to identify what is happening and start the appropriate treatment.
Main causes for appendicitis
In most appendicitis situations it is not possible to identify the specific cause of the appendix inflammation, however, obstruction of this area of the intestine seems to be the most frequent cause. When this happens, there may be accumulation of feces and bacteria inside it, which end up causing infection and inflammation.
It is believed that the obstruction of the appendix may arise due to several relatively common situations such as a strong trauma or worms, but also due to more serious problems such as intestinal tumors, for example.
The most commonly used way to treat appendicitis is to have surgery to remove the entire appendix. This surgery is known as appendectomy, which consists in a small cut in the abdomen to remove the appendix. Therefore, the person usually needs to be hospitalized after the treatment for 1 to 2 days in order to evaluate if the bowel is functioning properly and that complications due to surgery do not arise such as bleeding or infection.
Even in cases where the diagnosis is not accurate, surgery may be recommended, mainly because the risk of actually experiencing an appendicitis and ending up rupturing is superior. See in more detail how the surgery is done and how recovery is.
If the appendix is not removed, it may rupture, known as suppurative appendicitis, increasing the possibility of releasing bacteria into the abdomen and leading to the occurrence of peritonitis and formation of abscesses in the abdomen.
When appendicitis is not treated properly, the appendix may end up rupturing and causing two major complications:
- Peritonitis: is an infection of the lining of the abdomen provoked by bacteria, which can cause damage to your internal organs. Some symptoms that may indicate a peritonitis include general malaise, increased fever, swelling of the belly and feeling of shortness of breath;
- Abdominal abscess: it happens when the appendix ruptures and the appendage accumulates around, causing the emergence of a pouch filled with pus.
Both of these situations are serious and life-threatening. For this reason treatment should be done as soon as possible. Often, treatment includes surgery and the use of antibiotics directly into the vein to fight the infection caused by bacteria.
In addition, if there is an abscess, the doctor may need to insert a needle through the belly to remove excess pus before operating.
Is it dangerous to have appendicitis during pregnancy
It is dangerous to have appendicitis in pregnancy because the appendix can rupture and spread bacteria into the abdomen, which can cause serious infections for the mother and the baby.
Appendicitis in pregnancy presents the same symptoms and surgery is also the only treatment option, not being detrimental to the development of the baby.
So, if the pregnant woman feels an intense and continuous pain on the right side of the abdomen she should go immediately to the hospital to make the diagnosis and perform the surgery.