Appendix Pain and Appendicitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

The appendix is an apparently insignificant organ in our body, about 3.5 inch long finger-shaped tube of tissue extending from the large intestine.

The appendix is subject to inflammation that occurs with blockage due to infection, stool, any foreign substance, or cancer. This inflammation and blockage result in Appendix Pain, a condition called "appendicitis". It may be acute (affecting rapidly) or chronic (affecting slowly).

Appendix is not an essential organ in the body, and it is removed with surgery called appendectomy.

Symptoms of appendicitis

The main symptoms of appendicitis are:

• The first sign is a dull pain originating at the upper abdomen or navel, which "moves" to the lower right abdomen and becomes sharp.
• The abdominal pain is accompanied with Nausea and/or vomiting.
• Loss of appetite
• Swelling in the abdominal region
• Fever ranging 99-102 F
• Inability to pass gas (flatulence)
• Diarrhea

Other appendicitis signs are:

• Pain during urination
• Sharp or dull or pain in the lower or upper abdomen, back, or rectum
• Abdominal pain succeeded with vomiting
• Severe cramps
• Constipation or diarrhea with gas

Causes of appendicitis

As mentioned above, appendicitis occurs with an obstruction in the appendix. This obstruction can be partial or complete. A complete obstruction leads to emergency surgery.

Obstruction is usually caused by an accumulation of fecal matter, but it can also be caused by:

• infection
• worms
• enlarged lymphoid follicles
• tumors
• trauma

As the appendix gets obstructed, it allows bacteria to multiply leading to the formation of pus. This increases pressure causing abdominal pain. It can compress local blood vessels. If there is lack of blood flow to the appendix, gangrene can occur.

Complications with Appendicitis

Rupture of appendix allows fecal matter in the abdomen, which requires medical emergency.

Ruptured appendix can cause peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdominal wall. Organs such as the cecum, bladder, and sigmoid colon can also get inflamed.

Instead of rupturing, the infected appendix can leak forming an abscess. Though this confines the infection to a limited area, but it can still be dangerous.

Diagnosis of Appendicitis

The doctor will check for tenderness in the lower right quadrant of your abdomen. Pain will be experienced more in pregnancy. If there is perforation, the stomach will get swollen and hard, which should be immediately taken care of.

Other tests:

1. Urinalysis (to rule out UTI or kidney stone).
2. Pelvic tests: To check for pelvic infections or reproductive problems in women.
3. Pregnancy tests: to rule out a suspected ectopic pregnancy in women.
4. Abdominal imaging: X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan.
5. Chest x-ray: To rule out right lower-lobe pneumonia. It also pronounces has appendicitis-like symptoms.

Treatment of Appendicitis

Treatment for appendicitis depends upon the stage and condition of appendix.

In most cases, surgery called appendectomy is needed. The patient is put on antibiotics. Then the abscess is drained with a tube. After the infection is treated, surgery is carried out to remove the appendix.

In there is ruptured abscess or appendix, surgery is carried out immediately.

In rare cases, appendicitis may get better without surgery. Treatment involves liquid diet with antibiotics.

Appendectomy is done as open surgery or laproscopically, which is less invasive. Open surgery is needed in case of abscess or peritonitis. Recovery time for appendectomy is usually 1 to 4 days.


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