Appendicitis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Appendicitis Symptoms, Appendix is a thin tube (about 4 inches in size) that is located at the meeting point between small intestine and large intestine in the right lower abdomen. Appendix is a vestigial organ and has no function in the human body. The inflammation of appendix is known as appendicitis. Appendicitis is more common in young individuals (age between 10-30 years).
The classic appendicitis symptoms include pain in the right lower quadrant associated with nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, low-grade fever (progresses into high-grade fever with worsening of the condition), diarrhea or constipation and/or abdominal bloating.
Pain, one of the classic appendicitis symptoms, can vary in nature ranging from diffuse to localized, dull to sharp, radiating to focal. Initially, the pain may be dull and diffuse in nature, present around the umbilical (navel/belly button) area, which over time radiates to the right lower quadrant area. The pain might even originate as a sudden sharp pain localized in the lower right abdominal area. The pain worsens with sudden movements such as coughing, walking or jerking.
Generally, the cause that leads to appendicitis symptoms is still unclear. However, it has been postulated that the obstruction of appendix due to various reasons might lead to appendicitis and appendicitis symptoms. Obstruction of appendix can be caused due to fecal matter entering from cecum, which might lead to the formation of fecalith (stone of stool) and block the appendix opening. The obstruction of appendix is also attributed to inflammation of lymphatic tissue or by thickening of mucus secreted by the lining of appendix. The blockage leads to overgrowth of bacteria that are usually present in gut leading to inflammation of appendix.
Appendicitis treatment to relieve appendicitis symptoms is carried out after evaluation of pain symptoms, physical exam and reaching a confirmed diagnosis following blood test, urinalysis and imaging tests that include either abdominal ultrasound, X-ray, barium enema, laparoscopy or abdominal CT.
The only sure shot treatment and relieving appendicitis symptoms is the removal of appendix known as appendectomy. There are no home remedies or home treatment for appendicitis. After the diagnosis, if there is delay in surgery then it might lead to complications such as abscess formation, rupture and perforation of appendix that can further lead to peri-appendiceal abscess or peritonitis. A severe complication of appendicitis is sepsis if the infection is not contained.
Appendectomy can either be carried out through an open surgery or laparoscopically. The advent of laparoscopic surgery has made appendectomy more tolerable with minimal post-operative pain and faster recovery time. However, laparoscopic surgery cannot be performed in complicated cases of perforated appendix or peritonitis. In these cases open appendectomy is carried out by making a 4-inch incision over the right abdominal area where appendix is located and removing it. A drainage tube is placed in cases of ruptured appendix.
After appendectomy, the patient is discharged with a prescription of antibiotics (to control infection) and pain medications (acetaminophen and ibuprofen) to manage post-operative appendicitis symptoms. Appendicitis cannot be prevented, but it is less common in people with a healthy diet rich in fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables.