Appendicitis can affect people at any age, so how can you tell if you have it?
Got intense stomach pain? It could be appendicitis. Here’s everything you should know about what causes an appendicitis and what your appendix really does.
What is an appendix?
The appendix is a tube that sits at the junction of the small and large intestine. It is about 10 centimetres long and is normally found on the lower right side of the abdomen, near the hip bone.
Doctors are still unsure what the exact function of the appendix is.
Some experts believe that it is a storehouse for good bacteria and that these bacteria ‘reboot’ the digestive system after an illness.
Another theory is that it is remnant from our evolutionary past that is no longer useless to us.
Appendicitis: The facts
According to the experts at House Call Doctor, appendicitis is when the appendix becomes inflamed.
It’s estimated that one in 20 people will get appendicitis during their life. It rarely affects children under the age of two and most commonly occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30.
If the infected appendix is left untreated, it can rupture. The rupture can result is an abscess or sepsis, which can be fatal. Because of this, appendicitis is regarded as a medical emergency.
The cause of appendicitis is still unclear. There is disagreement about whether obstruction of the appendix is or is not a cause or whether contamination of the appendix with faeces is responsible.
Luckily, treatment is available for people with appendicitis.
Symptoms of appendicitis
Pain in the abdomen is the most well-known symptom of appendicitis.
It usually begins as a dull pain around the belly button, then moves to the lower right side of the abdomen where it becomes a sharp pain.
The build-up of pus is what causes the appendix to burst and flood the abdomen with infected matter. Bursting can happen anytime from 36 hours onwards from the onset of infection.
How an appendicitis is diagnosed
Appendicitis can mimic the symptoms of other conditions. These include gastroenteritis, ectopic pregnancy, kidney, and chest infections.
Many women mistake appendicitis pain for period cramps., therefore, it’s important to seek medical advice if your period cramps seem more painful or different than usual.
Diagnosis can include physical examination, symptom consideration, lab tests, ultrasound, or CT scans.
The common ways to treat appendicitis
The most well-known treatment for appendicitis is surgery.
Surgery that removes the appendix completely is called an appendectomy or appendectomy. This is usually a keyhole surgery.
If the appendix has burst, a tube is inserted into the abdomen to drain the abdominal cavity of pus and antibiotics are given to prevent infection.
The removal of the appendix doesn’t have any effect on the digestive system in the short term or the long term.
Antibiotic therapy can also be used as an alternative to surgery. Studies have shown that 70 per cent of cases of appendicitis can be resolved by using antibiotic therapy, however, it usually reserved for the patients that are too frail to have surgery.
If you think you may have appendicitis or have questions and concerns, seek medical advice immediately.