What is Appendicitis? Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Appendicitis is a common problem that occurs when the appendix fills with pus. It most commonly happens in people between the ages of 20 and 40. Anyone can get appendicitis, but it is more common in men, Native Americans and people of Eastern European or Asian descent. The appendix is a small worm-shaped structure that extends from the beginning of the large intestine (also known as the cecum).
The function of this organ has long been debated. Still, recent research suggests that it may have a protective role by neutralizing toxins and aiding in the growth of beneficial bacteria. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of appendicitis, contact your doctor immediately for further evaluation.
What are the Causes of Appendicitis?
The causes of appendicitis are not exactly known. Some of the factors that may increase the risk of developing appendicitis include a poor diet, poor general health, underlying disease, use of certain medications, and genetics. A diet low in fiber increases your risk of developing appendicitis since fiber helps soften your stools, facilitating easier passage through the digestive tract. People who consume high amounts of meat have a higher risk of developing appendicitis since meat has little fiber.
Poor general health (such as chronic stress or an unhealthy diet) can make your immune system less able to fight off infections like appendicitis. Additionally, if you already have an infection in your intestines, your appendix could also get infected, leading to appendicitis. This can happen if you have a bowel obstruction (blockage) as a result of an inflammation of your bowel. This could be due to pancreatitis, diverticulitis, or a tumor.
What are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?
The most common symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain that increases with movement, coughing or a bowel movement. The pain is usually on the right side of your abdomen, but it can often be felt on both sides. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
If the appendix ruptures, you may experience a slight fever, low blood pressure, and a feeling of weakness. If your appendix has developed an infection (appendicitis), you may also experience constipation, pain in your lower right side, and/or a mild fever
How is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects appendicitis, they will order several diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests look at your white blood cell count and the presence of infection or inflammation. A pelvic exam with a Pap smear to check for abnormalities in your ovaries and uterus. The doctor may also take a sample of your cervical cells or do a Pap smear, which may help them to detect any abnormalities of your cervix.
A CT scan or an MRI scan of your abdomen can provide a clearer image of your appendix, blood vessels and surrounding tissues. An ultrasound of your abdominal organs can help doctors to see if the appendix is enlarged. Laparoscopy involves the doctor inserting a small telescope through a small incision in your abdomen to examine the anatomy of your pelvic and abdominal organs.
What is the Treatment for Appendicitis?
If you are diagnosed with appendicitis, your doctor will recommend a course of antibiotics to treat the infection and pain medication to relieve your symptoms. If the infection is caught early, antibiotics may be enough to treat the condition, but if the appendix has already ruptured, then surgery is the only way to remove it. You may be offered a laparoscopic appendectomy if the infection has not spread.
This operation uses a small camera to view your abdominal organs, followed by the removal of your appendix. If your appendix has already ruptured, you will have a standard open appendectomy. During this operation, the surgeon makes a larger incision in your abdomen using a surgical scalpel to remove the damaged appendix
Prevention of Appendicitis
There is no specific way to prevent appendicitis, but you can reduce your risk by practicing good general health habits. Stay hydrated, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and sleep enough. Avoid high-fat foods and excessive alcohol consumption. You can also lower your risk of developing appendicitis by maintaining good hygiene, eating a fiber-rich diet, and regularly undergoing annual medical check-ups.
Conclusion: Understanding Appendicitis
Appendicitis is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should see a doctor immediately. Although appendicitis is treatable, it can result in serious complications, such as organ damage and death, if left untreated.
Therefore, you need to be aware of the early signs of appendicitis and seek medical help as soon as possible. With early detection and treatment, most cases of appendicitis can be treated successfully.