What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. It may be acute or chronic, can occur at any time, and mostly affect males than females. Appendicitis may cause your appendix to rupture, leading to serious infection.
A common symptom of appendicitis is indigestion or gas, causing a person to feel as if gas is trapped in their abdomen.
Those experiencing a mild gas-related pain can take an over-the-counter (OTC) heartburn medication to relieve symptoms.
Popular OTC options include:
- omeprazole (Prilosec)
- lansoprazole (Prevacid)
- ranitidine (Zantac)
Appendicitis may become a medical emergency, so see your doctor immediately if symptoms persist for more than a day or cause you agonizing pain.
Symptoms of appendicitis
People with appendicitis may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- pain around the bellybutton
- lower right side abdominal pain
- inability to pass gas
- abdominal swelling
Appendicitis pain may begin as a mild cramping which often gets worse over time. There be no changes in your bowel habits, but appendicitis can sometimes affect urination.
READ ALSO: Peritonitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Avoid taking laxatives or having an enema if you suspect appendicitis. These treatments may cause your appendix to rupture if you’re experiencing appendicitis. If you have tenderness on your right side along with any of these other symptoms, see your doctor.
Causes of appendicitis
There can also be multiple causes for one case of appendicitis, in many cases, the cause for appendicitis is unknown. However, doctors said it is caused by a partial or complete obstruction in the appendix. Complete obstruction is a cause for emergency surgery.
Obstruction is often caused an accumulation of fecal matter which can be as a result of trauma, tumors, enlarged lymphoid follicles, or worms.
The obstruction in your appendix can cause bacteria to multiply inside the organ, leading to the formation of pus. The increased pressure can be very painful. It can affect blood flow to the appendix, leading to gangrene.
If the appendix ruptures, fecal matter can fill the abdomen. This is a medical emergency.
Apart from gangrene, another possible consequence of ruptured appendix is peritonitis (an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdominal wall). Other organs can also become irritated after a rupture. Affected organs may include sigmoid colon, cecum, and bladder.
In some cases, the infected appendix may not rupture but it may leak. In this case, it can form an abscess which can still be dangerous.
Symptoms of appendicitis in teens
The symptoms of appendicitis is same for adolescents as they are for adults, though they may begin differently. In adolescents, appendicitis can begin as a ambiguous stomachache near the navel. This pain may move to the lower right side of the abdomen. This pain may be associated with fever, nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
Appendicitis is mainly associated with stomach pain, but this pain can also be felt in your sides or back. This pain may aggravate if you more or talk. Consult your doctor if you’re experiencing pain that doesn’t fade after 4 hours.
To diagnose for appendicitis, your doctor will examine you for tenderness in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen. The pain may be higher if you are pregnant. In case of a puncture, your stomach may become hard and swollen.
Your doctor will also order a complete blood count (CBC) test to determine if there’s a bacterial infection. Bacterial infection is often correlated with appendicitis.
Your doctor will also perform several tests including pelvic exams, urinalysis, pregnancy test, abdominal imaging and chest X-ray to rule out other similar conditions:
Treatment for appendicitis
In most severe cases of appendicitis, surgery will be required. The type of surgery will depend on the details of your case.
If appendicitis involves an abscess that hasn’t ruptured, your doctor may first administer antibiotics. Your doctor will then drain the abscess using a tube placed through your skin. After you’ve received treatment for the infection, you’ll undergo surgery to remove your appendix.
For people with a ruptured abscess or appendix, surgery may be needed immediately. Appendectomy will be performed to remove the appendix.
READ ALSO: 12 Home Remedies for Upset Stomach
This procedure can be carried out as an open surgery or through a laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is less invasive, making the recovery time shorter. However, open surgery may be required if you have an abscess or peritonitis.
You may also experience temporary constipation. So it is necessary to consume foods rich in fiber and drink lots of fluid to stay hydrated so as to help control your bowel movements. Foods high in fiber include:
- split peas
- black beans
- lima beans
You may need to avoid strenuous activities for four to six weeks after your surgery.