How does appendicitis occur?
Appendicitis is the result of inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a vestigial small tube that sits at the junction of the small intestine and large intestine. It is not clear whether it serves any useful purpose in humans, but one of the suspected functions is housing and cultivating beneficial gut flora that can repopulate the digestive system. In some individuals, the appendix becomes irritated, inflamed, and infected. This condition is known as appendicitis and must be treated right away. An inflamed appendix can further produce periodic pain, and if it ruptures, it causes excruciating pain and discomfort. Moreover, bacteria can spread across the abdomen if an appendix ruptures, causing infection. The good news is that appendicitis can be treated by timely surgical intervention by a good gastroenterologist/surgeon.
What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
Depending on your age and the position of your appendix, the area where you may be feeling discomfort may vary. For instance, your appendix may migrate a few centimetres higher during pregnancy, because of which it may feel like the pain is radiating from your upper abdomen.
Overall, appendicitis can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen and then spreads to the left
- Abrupt pain around the navel that gradually moves to the lower right abdomen
- Pain that aggravates while coughing, walking, or from other jarring movements
- Excessive vomiting and frequent bouts of nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Mild fever, which may become more severe over time
- Rare instances of diarrhoea or constipation
- Bloating in the abdomen
What causes appendicitis?
Appendicitis can be caused by a variety of factors. In many cases, the root cause is unspecified. A few of the possible causes are:
- Stiffened body waste or growth that can obstruct the appendix’s opening
- Presence of various infections such as virus, bacteria, or parasites, in the digestive tract
- Blocked stool in the tube that links the large intestine and appendix
- Irritable bowel syndrome
When should you visit a gastroenterologist?
Appendicitis is a life-threatening condition that demands immediate medical attention. The longer it goes untreated, the worse it becomes. The first signs and symptoms may appear to be indigestion. Sudden acute stomach discomfort is always a red flag, so if you have any of the symptoms listed above, visit the nearby emergency room immediately. Appendicitis should be treated as soon as symptoms develop to avoid its progression and further complications.
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What are the available options to treat appendicitis?
During the examination, the doctor will ask you questions regarding your symptoms. The doctor may exert pressure on the lower abdomen to evaluate if it makes the pain worse. Further tests will be ordered if your doctor suspects appendicitis, but does not notice the usual signs and symptoms.
Common tests include blood tests to rule out infection, an MRI, a CT scan, or ultrasound to see if the appendix is inflamed, or urine tests to rule out a kidney or bladder infection. This may be sufficient to treat appendicitis in certain situations, and surgery may not be required. In most cases, however, the appendix must be removed surgically.
Possible surgery options for appendicitis:
- Laparoscopy: This is a precise process that results in minimal blood loss, small incisions, and minimal scarring. As a result, recuperation is quicker than with open surgery.
- Open surgery: In some circumstances, a bigger incision will be required to clean the inside of the abdominal cavity.
Make sure that you look for the best surgeon near you, specialised in performing the surgical procedure.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency that can be treated with intravenous antibiotics or surgical appendectomy, and minimal complications. You can begin moving around within 12 hours post surgery and would be able to return to your regular routine in 2 to 3 weeks, or even sooner, if you have had laparoscopy.
When the inside of the appendix becomes clogged, one may get appendicitis. Infections in the digestive tract, such as viruses, bacteria, or parasites, can cause appendicitis. It could also occur if the tube connecting your large intestine and appendix becomes clogged by stool.
If you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, you should go to the nearest emergency hospital or urgent care facility since a ruptured appendix is a medical emergency.
The doctor will make a comprehensive diagnosis based on the symptoms that you have mentioned. The treatment will be planned once the diagnosis has been completed and it has been determined that surgery is required. An appendectomy approximately takes one hour to finish.