Acute Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a medical emergency. It happens when appendix becomes sore, swollen, and diseased. The appendix is a thin tube that is joined to the large intestine. It sits in the lower right part of belly (abdomen).

During childhood, appendix is a working part of immune system. The appendix does not keep working in older, but it can get infected. If not treated, it can burst (rupture). This is serious and can lead to more infection and even death

Appendicitis nearly always happens when the inside of appendix gets blocked by something. This makes it swell up, and that makes the blockage worse. The bacteria that always live in intestines start an infection. In appendicitis, there is a serious Risk that appendix may burst. This can happen as soon as 48 to 72 hours after starting Symptoms. Because of this, appendicitis is a medical emergency.

Appendicitis may be caused by various infections, such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Or it may happen when the tube that joins appendix with large intestine gets blocked or trapped by stool. Sometimes tumors can cause appendicitis.

The appendix then becomes sore and swollen. The blood supply to the appendix stops as the swelling and soreness get worse. Without enough blood flow, the appendix starts to die. The appendix will burst as its walls start to get holes. These holes let stool, mucus, bacteria, and other things leak through and get inside abdomen and peritonitis occurs.

Appendicitis is the most common cause of sudden (acute) belly pain that requires surgery. It mostly happens in teens and young adults in their 20s, but it can happen at any age. Having a family history of appendicitis may raise Risk, especially in male.

Pain in the abdomen is the most common symptom. This pain:

  • May start around  belly button area and move to the lower right-hand side of belly, or it may start in the lower right-hand side of  belly
  • Often gets worse as time goes on
  • May feel worse when  moving, taking deep breaths, being touched, and coughing or sneezing
  • May be felt all over  belly if  appendix bursts

Other common Symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever and chills
  • Trouble having a bowel movement (constipation)
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble passing gas
  • Swollen belly
  • Appendicitis Symptoms may look like other health problems.

 

The main problem with appendicitis is the Risk of a burst appendix. This may happen if the appendix is not removed quickly. A burst appendix can lead to infection throughout the belly called peritonitis. Peritonitis can be very serious and even cause death if not treated right away.

At this time, there is no known way to stop appendicitis from happening.

 

 

How is it diagnosed?

Past health record and physical exam. Following tests:
  • Blood tests. To check for signs of infection, such as having a high white blood cell count.
  • Urine tests. To see if urinary tract infection.

How is it treated?

Appendicitis is a medical emergency. It is likely the appendix will burst and cause a serious, deadly infection. For this reason, surgery required to remove appendix.

The appendix will be removed in one of two ways:

  • Traditional (open) surgery method Under Anesthesia: A cut (incision) is made in the lower right-hand side of belly. The surgeon finds the appendix and takes it out. If the appendix has burst, a small tube (shunt) may be put in to drain out pus and other fluids in the belly. The shunt will be taken out in a few days, when surgeon feels the infection has gone away.
  • Laparoscopic method Under Anesthesia: This surgery uses several small cuts (incisions) and a camera (laparoscope) to look inside belly. The surgical tools are placed through a few small cuts. The laparoscope is placed through another cut. A laparoscopy can often be done even if the appendix has burst.

If appendix has not burst, recovery from an appendectomy will take only a few days. If appendix has burst, recovery time will be longer and will need antibiotic medicine.

Need to be treated for a few weeks with antibiotics and drainage if the infection around the appendix is too severe for immediate surgery. Then surgery to remove the appendix at a later time can live a normal life without  appendix. Changes in diet or exercise are usually not needed.

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