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Definition

Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix which is a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. The appendix serves no particular purpose as such.

Symptoms

Most common signs and symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen and spreads
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden pain that begins around your navel and often shifts to your lower right abdomen
  • Pain that worsens if you cough, walk or make other sudden movements
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever that may worsen as the illness progresses

The area of your pain may vary depending on your age and the position of your appendix.

If you have any/some/all of the above symptoms, prompt medical attention must be sought.

Diagnosis

To help diagnose appendicitis, your doctor will take a history of your signs and symptoms and examine your abdomen and how much the pain has affected the area.

  • Physical exam to assess your pain and to see how much the area is inflamed. Apart from his, your doctor may even examine your lower rectum through a digital rectal exam
  • Blood test to check for a high white blood cell count
  • Urine test to make sure that a urinary tract infection or a kidney stone isn't causing your pain
  • Imaging tests such as abdominal X-ray, an abdominal ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) scan

Treatment

The treatment for appendicitis mainly includes surgery before which a dosage of antibiotics needs to give to prevent any kind of infection. This procedure is known as appendectomy.

It is an open surgery which can either be done by making one long abdominal incision or laparascopically using only a few small incisions.

If your appendix has burst and an abscess has formed around it, the abscess may be drained by placing a tube through your skin into the abscess.

Appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity's lining (the peritoneum) that can be fatal unless it is treated quickly with strong antibiotics.

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