One of the causes of appendicitis is the blockage or infection in the appendix part. Appendicitis develops when your appendix becomes infected or inflamed. It leads to pain in your lower right abdomen. Even though pain starts to occur around the navel and then continues. Appendicitis pain usually increases with time and becomes severe as the inflammation increases. The recommended treatment is surgery to remove your appendix.
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is the condition of an inflamed appendix that leads to acute (intense and sudden) pain in your lower abdomen. An appendix is a small structure similar to a tube-shaped that comes through from the lower right end of the large intestine. When poops move through the large intestine, it blocks or infects your appendix, resulting in inflammation. Inflammation is the factor that develops swelling in your appendix that may result in a burst.
Most appendicitis is generally an acute condition. It indicates that it develops instantly and becomes worse with time. It is often common in children and young adults between 10 to 30 years. Acute appendicitis usually develops in males compared to females. You may experience pain that becomes intense and severe within 24 hours.
Acute appendicitis is more often found in people than in chronic appendicitis. If they do not receive treatment on time or in its early stages, it can lead to appendix rupture. It may result in severe and more deadly consequences.
Chronic appendicitis is less frequent than acute appendicitis. It may be unrecognized because symptoms do not go up in such a way as they develop in acute appendicitis. The symptoms may develop are mild and generally occur after acute appendicitis. Symptoms may vanish before showing up again within a time frame of weeks, months, or years.
Healthcare providers may have the challenge to detect or diagnose chronic appendicitis. Chronic appendicitis may become worse or acute at any moment.
Symptoms of appendicitis
Appendicitis pain mostly begins with mild cramps in your upper abdomen or belly button area, then transfers to your lower right abdomen. Following are the signs and symptoms of appendicitis that people experience include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Intense pain that develops on the lower right side of the abdomen
- Decreased appetite
- Sudden pain that develops around your navel and often transfers to your lower right abdomen
- Bloating in the abdominal area
- Pain that becomes worse when you walk, cough, or do some other movements
- Low-level fever that becomes worse with the continuity of the illness
- Lack of energy and motivation
You may experience these less-occurring symptoms that include
- Difficulty releasing gas
- Increased or frequent urination
- More frequent poops and overactive bowels movement
The pain you experience at the particular site of your body may change and depends on the age and appendix position. You may have upper abdomen pain if you are pregnant. It happens because your appendix position is higher when you are pregnant.
Talk to your doctor if you experience these symptoms, as appendicitis may require instant medical care.
You can schedule an appointment online with a healthcare provider immediately if your child experiences severe signs and symptoms of appendicitis.
Causes of Appendicitis
The exact causes of appendicitis are not still clear in most cases. According to healthcare experts, it generally develops when blockage or damage occurs in the appendix part. A blockage leads to an infection in your appendicitis.
Your large intestine is the center of most of the bacteria and if a large amount of bacteria becomes stuck in your appendicitis, they lead to abnormal growth and develop an infection. Appendicitis may start with a bacterial infection from time to time, or occasionally, the infection occurs at the end. The quantity of bacteria in appendicitis increases fastly, giving rise to inflammation, swelling, and filling with pus in the appendicitis.
The common causes of inflammation, swelling, obstruction, and infection in your appendix are as follows:
- Deposition of hard stool (poop) – Build up of hardened and calcified feces is called appendix stones or appendicoliths, which can trap in the opening of your appendix. These transport bacteria and also confine those that were present previously in your appendix.
- Colitis – If you have inflammation in your colon that develops from infection or inflammatory bowel disease, it can influence your appendix. The bacterial infection spreads to your appendicitis, or you may have irritation or itching due to inflammation.
- Lymphoid hyperplasia – The lymphatic system is a part of your immune system that prevents entering infections in your body. It works by developing and releasing white blood cells into your tissues. When you have this condition with a bacterial infection present anywhere in your body, it can cause swelling in the lymphoid tissue of your appendix. The swelling tissue in your appendix can block it and develop an infection.
Some other factors that may block the appendix opening include:
- Traumatic injury
Every individual may experience appendicitis. However, few people may have more chances for this condition than others. Here are the common risk factors for appendicitis include:
- Age. Mostly appendicitis develops in teens and people in their 20s or 30s. But, it can occur at any age.
- Family history. You are more prone to develop appendicitis if you have a family history.
- Gender. Appendicitis is usually more common in men than women.
What are the common conditions that might be confused with appendicitis?
There is a similarity between the symptoms of appendicitis and most other conditions, especially for women. Your lower abdomen is close to your pelvic cavity, and those conditions that affect your pelvic organs may experience similar to appendicitis. The organs include your urinary and female reproductive system, and other lower abdominal organs may also be affected.
Here are the few common conditions that may easily intermix with appendicitis include
- Kidney stone
- Urinary tract infection
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Intestinal obstruction
How does a healthcare provider diagnose appendicitis?
A healthcare provider will ask you about the symptoms, medical history, family history, etc. A physical exam will be conducted to observe for tenderness in the lower right abdomen and swelling.
You may need to order one or more tests to diagnose appendicitis or find the possible causes of your symptoms. It depends on the test results of your physical exam. As no individual test may help to see the signs of appendicitis. If healthcare providers are not able to identify the cause of your symptoms, they may go to determine the cause as appendicitis.
Your doctor may recommend a complete blood count (CBC) for signs of infection. A healthcare provider will collect a blood sample from your vein and analyze it in a laboratory.
Appendicitis is often followed by bacterial infection. Any infection in your abdominal organs or urinary tract may also develop symptoms like appendicitis.
You may also need to order a C-reactive protein test to find the other possible causes of inflammation, like an autoimmune disorder.
A urinalysis or urine test will help to detect urinary tract infections or kidney stones that are the potential causes of your symptoms. A healthcare provider will ask you for a urine sample observed in the laboratory.
If you are a woman, you may have symptoms due to pelvic inflammatory disease or a condition that affects your reproductive organs. A healthcare provider
may conduct a pelvic exam to observe your reproductive organs.
A physical exam will allow your provider to check your vagina, cervix, and vulva. Healthcare providers may take a sample of tissue for examination.
Abdominal imaging tests
Your doctor may suggest imaging tests to see inflammation in your appendix. It also helps your providers to know the possible causes of your symptoms that include
● Fecal impaction
● Abdominal abscess
● Inflammatory bowel disease
Speak to a healthcare provider online about the preparations required for these imaging tests.
Chest imaging tests
If a healthcare provider considers that you may have pneumonia, they may recommend a chest X-ray. Pneumonia develops in the lower right area of your lungs and may also develop symptoms similar to appendicitis.
A provider may suggest an ultrasound or a CT scan to see clear images of your lungs.
Complications of appendicitis
Appendicitis may lead to serious complications when your appendix becomes ruptured. Complications may develop in different stages, even though they do not often occur in the same manner.
Following are the complications of appendicitis include:
- A ruptured appendix: When you experience a rupture in your abdomen, leading to infection through your abdomen that spreads throughout. It is a potentially life-threatening condition.
- Ischemia and necrosis: Ischemia is a condition in which you experience extreme swelling in your appendix that blocks the blood supply, leading to increased inflammation in your appendicitis. A condition in which tissue decay begins to occur is called necrosis.
- Gangrene: If you experience necrosis, the infection may spread slowly through your internal gangrene or instantly when your appendix bursts.
- Pus formation in the abdomen: In the beginning, the infection may not spread other than your appendix. You may develop an abscess, and a pocket of pus lies outside your appendix. A mass is also built around the appendix, known as phlegmon. These masses include the infection, but they may burst.
- Peritonitis: When the appendix bursts and bacteria spread into your abdominal cavity, the abdominal cavity lining or peritoneum may become infected and inflamed. It is known as peritonitis, a very severe and deadly condition.
- Sepsis: Sometimes, bacteria from a ruptured abscess may go to your blood vessel to different body parts. It is a severe deadly condition called sepsis.
Treatment for appendicitis
Appendicitis needs emergency treatment. Following are the treatment methods that a healthcare provider may recommend, including
A doctor generally recommends antibiotics for appendicitis. Antibiotics are the standard recommended and preventive treatment before surgery.
At the initial and mild case of appendicitis, a healthcare provider may observe your condition and whether the antibiotics are effective in treatment. You may choose the medication if you have the risk factors for surgery. Though, sometimes healthcare providers suggest surgery because appendicitis often returns if your appendix is not removed.
You may need to take medication to relieve pain through IV.
Timing plays a significant role if you have been diagnosed with appendicitis. If you have the initial symptoms, your appendix may rupture within 36 hours. A professional surgeon will generally schedule your appendectomy within 24 hours of the diagnosis. Appendectomy is one of the leading surgical methods carried out throughout the world.
During your surgery, you will provide general anesthesia so you cannot awake. Your surgeon will control and treat any complications during your surgery.
No side effects of appendix removal are currently present.
You may need to consult a healthcare provider if you have the symptoms of appendicitis since it requires immediate medical treatment.
A healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics and pain relievers if you have surgery to remove your appendix. In addition to medications, as recommended, you and your surgeon may consider
- Taking rest
- Drinking enough amount of fluids
- Doing light physical activity such as walking
- Avoiding lifting heavy objects and intense exercise
- Keeping surgical instruments and sites clean and dry
Your doctor may advise you to balance and manage your diet in a few cases. When you feel nauseous after surgery, certain bland foods, including toast and plain rice, may help treat you. If you have constipation, taking fiber foods or supplements helps you.
Request an online appointment with a healthcare provider if you have appendicitis.
Appendicitis is a serious condition and may lead to severe complications. You may not feel about your appendix until it begins troubling and hurting. If you experience this condition, you may need to take immediate action by visiting the hospital. You will need to inform your provider about the symptoms of appendicitis. In a few cases, a healthcare provider will suggest some antibiotics or surgery to remove the appendix. You can talk with a healthcare provider online if you have risk factors for developing appendicitis.