Know the basics
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is condition that causes inflammation to the appendix. The appendix is a tiny, tube – shaped structure attached to the first part of the large intestine. It is located in the lower right part of the abdomen. It usually does not have a known function but when it gets blocked it can cause harm to the body and be life threatening.
How common is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is a common condition that can occur at any age. But in most often occurs in people between 10 and 30 years old. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
The main symptom of appendicitis is pain in the abdomen (stomach) that starts in the upper middle part near the umbilicus (belly button). The pain then usually moves down to the right lower corner of the abdomen. Movement, coughing and straining may make the pain worse.
Other symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Loss of appetite;
- Constipation or diarrhea;
- Inability to pass gas;
- Abdominal swelling;
- And a low-grade fever.
Waiting too long before seeking medical care can cause the appendix to burst and lead to severe life-threatening infection. There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should call your doctor or go to the hospital if having any following symptom:
- If you suspect any signs of appendicitis;
- Lower right side abdomen pain that does not go away;
- Diarrhea or blood in the stool;
- Abdominal swelling with fever.
Know the causes
What causes appendicitis?
The cause of appendicitis is due to a blockage. This blockage can be caused by stool, foreign object or cancer. When blocked, bacteria can grow and multiply. This causes the appendix to swell and filled with pus. If the appendix burst, the bacteria can spread and cause infection to the rest of the body. In some cases the appendix may be inflamed in response to an infection.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for appendicitis?
There are many risk factors for appendicitis, such as:
- Having intestinal infections;
- Having Family members have had appendicitis or cystic fibrosis;
- Having a low-fiber diet with high carbohydrates.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is appendicitis diagnosed?
To give a proper diagnosis, your doctor may perform the following tests:
- Physical examination to assess your pain;
- Blood test to test for infections;
- Urine test to test if your pain is caused by a urinary tract infection or kidney stones;
Imaging tests such as x-ray, abdominal ultrasound, or a computerized tomography (CT).
How is appendicitis treated?
Treatment for appendicitis is to remove of the appendix; this is usually known as appendectomy. An appendectomy is the most common emergency abdominal operation. There are two common types of appendectomy:
- Laparoscopy appendectomy: A lighted tube (scope) is passed into the abdomen to see and remove the appendix.
- Open appendectomy: is an operation involves making a cut in the lower right side of the abdomen to remove the appendix.
Doctors will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection, pain medications, and stool softeners to help with constipation.
In simple cases, most people will be in the hospital for 1 day or may go home the same day of surgery. For more severe cases where the appendix ruptures, the hospital stay will be longer and intravenous antibiotics are given. The doctor will need to monitor for any complications.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage appendicitis?
You can control appendicitis by report your symptom to the doctor as soon as possible. In addition, you should follow your doctor’s instructions about how to take your medications and wound caring after surgery. Re-examine regularly to prevent any complications after surgery.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 959.
Porter, Robert. Kaplan Justin. Homeier Barbara. The Merck manual home health handbook. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2009. Print edition. Page 203.
Appendicitis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/appendicitis/. Assessed July 13, 2016.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017