Appendicitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Appendicitis is an health condition that is characterized by the inflammation of the appendix. Appendix is a thin tube that is found at the lower right part of the abdomen.
Appendicitis causes severe abdominal pain that requires surgery as ultimate remedy and if it is left untreated it can allow the appendix to burst thereby allowing bacteria to be released into the abdominal cavity. This condition can result into more serious complications.

How common is appendicitis in the United States?

Appendix is one of the most common cause of abdominal pain that demands surgery as effective treatment and it has affect more than 5% of the United States population . This condition can be experienced at any age but it is more likely to affect people between the age of 10 and 30. Early diagnosis and treatment of appendix is very important to prevent serious complications that can discontinue the existence of life.

What are the causes of appendicitis?

Appendicitis is caused when the lining of the appendix is blocked. The conditions that can contribute to this blockage include; accumulation of harden feces, tumors, gallstones and enlargement of lymphatic tissue. When the appendix is blocked bacteria double rapidly and cause inflammations due to the formation of pus and swellings. This condition can cause the appendix to burst when left untreated and this could results into other serious complications.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

The symptoms you may experience when your appendix is inflamed include:

  • Persistent pain in the right side of the lower abdomen and the belly button
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Lost of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Swelling of the abdomen

When to see a doctor

Visit the clinic and see your doctor for proper diagnosis if you experience any symptoms of pains around your belly button or in the lower right side of your abdomen that is accompanied with constipation, vomiting and low grade fever. Early diagnosis and treatment through surgery is an effective way of preventing the appendix from bursting which can cause serious complications when infectious bacterial spills into the abdominal cavity.

Diagnosis of appendicitis

The diagnosis of appendicitis involves reviewing your symptoms and carrying out a physical examination on you. Your doctor will ask for more details about the symptoms you are experiencing such as the severity and the period you have been experiencing the symptoms. Your doctor will also review your medical history to see if you have health conditions such as gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, ovary infections and kidney stone which symptoms are similar to appendicitis. He or she will also ask about the medications you have been using.
Physical examination involves touching the lower right side of the abdomen to check for swelling and inflammations.
There is no precise test to accurately diagnose appendicitis, therefore your doctor may order for the following test to detect the cause of appendicitis:

  • Complete Blood Count: this involves sending your blood sample to the laboratory for detailed analysis to check for signs of infections. The laboratory analysis involves checking the white blood cell count which is regularly elevated in people with appendicitis. The blood sample may also be screened for the presence of bacteria which can also inflame the appendix. The bacteria detected can also cause symptoms that are similar to urinary tract infections.
  • Urinalysis: this test involves examining your urine sample in the laboratory to exclude urinary tract infections, pregnancy and kidney stone as the cause of the symptoms.
  • Abdominal Ultrasounds: this involves the use of high frequency sound waves to produce images and videos of the inner structure of the abdomen. Abdominal ultrasound helps to detect inflammation of the appendix. They are generally safe with no risk and are commonly used in children and pregnant women to avoid exposure to radiation from CT scans and x-rays.

Treatment of appendicitis

Your doctor may recommend antibiotics, painkillers, liquid foods and intravenous fluids depending on the severity of the symptoms you experiencing. The chances of recovering from appendicitis without surgery is very thin. A surgical procedure that involves the removal of appendix is called appendectomy.

Appendectomy

This is the surgical method of removing appendix and it is the best treatment option for appendicitis. In most cases, surgery are performed through laparoscopy which is a minimally invasive surgery.Laparoscopy involves making small incisions (cuts) in the abdominal wall and inserting a long thin tube with camera into the abdomen to facilitate the removal of the appendix. In a situation whereby the appendix have rupture (burst) laparotomy or an open surgery may be required in other to clean out the abdominal cavity to prevent infections and other complications.

After a successful and uncomplicated appendectomy you will also need a post-operative care with your doctor to monitor your response to the treatment. During this period your doctor will inspect incisions to screen wound infections. He o r she will also recommend painkillers to ease pains and antibiotics to control infections. The recovery period after surgery is between 3 to 6 weeks and it is faster in patients who had laparoscopic surgery.If you have symptoms of blood in urine and vomit, persistent belly pain, dizziness, pus in wounds and reoccurring vomiting, it is advisable that you contact your doctor to control the condition.

How can I prevent appendicitis

There is no proven evidence of preventing appendicitis. However the risk factors of developing appendicitis may include;

  • Age group: it is common in people between the age of 10 and 30, although appendicitis can affect any age group.
  • Gender: it is more common in men than women
  • Family history of the diseases

Eating food that is high in fibre and low in sugar can lower your risk of developing appendicitis.
Examples of high-fibre diet include:

  • Legumes such as lentils, beans, split beans, big beans and kidney beans
  • Fruits such as blueberries, limes, guavas,grapes,oranges, strawberries, pears, cucumber, watermelon, avocado and apples.
  • Vegetables such as spinach and carrots
  • Almonds, oatmeal, wheat, fenugreek seeds, and garlic.

Food to avoid when you have appendicitis

The following are foods that can worsen the symtoms of appendicitis

  • Coffee
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Butter
  • Baked foods that are made from flours that have been refined
  • Sugary foods
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat

About Adebayo Taiwo

Adebayo Taiwo hails from Africa. He's a Microbiologist , Health Safety and Environment Specialist and a Health Advisor who is concerned about the well-being and healthy lifestyle of people around the globe. The health of my people is my pride.

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