The appendix is a tube-like structure organ that protrudes out from the colon attached to the large intestine which is located in the right corner of your lower stomach. It is said that initially, for the first few years after birth, the appendix plays a role in the development of the immune system, but it is not known how it functions.
However, it can cause certain health complications like appendicitis, a sudden inflammation of this appendix organ. Appendicitis can affect anyone, but children and adults between the ages of 10 and 30 years tend to be affected the most. Appendicitis is usually treated surgically by removing the appendix.
Causes of Appendicitis
In many cases, appendicitis has no known cause. Experts believe that when the appendix is blocked or obstructed by mucus, bacteria, a foreign body, parasites, hardened stools or cancer it gets infected and swells. Infection can also cause blockage of the appendix since the appendix swells in response to some bodily infections. Appendix ruptures and bursts if not treated immediately. A burst appendix can cause severe complications.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
The main symptom of appendicitis is sudden and intense abdominal pain in the lower right side of your stomach, where the appendix is located. The symptoms of this condition often start suddenly and get worse over time. They include:
- Abdominal pain that becomes more intense when you cough, sneeze, inhale or while making any movements.
- Sharp pain around the navel area
- Swollen belly or bloating
- Inability to pass gas.
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low fever which may become worse over time
Depending on your age and the position of your appendix, the site of your pain may vary. If you’re pregnant, your appendix rises to a higher position, which may cause pain to appear from your upper abdomen.
Complications caused by appendicitis
A ruptured appendix bursts and spreads a severe infection in the abdomen which is called peritonitis. Possibly this is a life-threatening condition that requires prompt surgical treatment such as removal of your appendix and cleaning your abdomen.
If the appendix bursts, it might lead to an abscess (infection). Usually, the surgeon will implant a tube into the abscess through the abdomen to drain the abscess. For about two weeks, this tube stays in place, and the doctors will give some antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
The ruptured appendix releases a kind of bacteria that is capable of entering your bloodstream and can cause a severe complication called sepsis. Sepsis can cause inflammation of many body organs. It can be life-threatening. Antibiotics must be administered in a hospital to treat sepsis.
The most common way to treat appendicitis is through a surgery called an appendectomy. This procedure involves removing a diseased appendix. The surgery prevents the rupture of the appendix as well as infection spreading if the appendix still hasn’t ruptured.
You are given intravenous (IV) antibiotics prior to surgery to prevent infection. Antibiotics alone can treat mild cases of appendicitis. You will be closely monitored by your doctor to determine whether surgery is needed. When the appendix ruptures, the abdominal infection can only be treated through surgery.
In most cases, appendectomy is done as a laparoscopic procedure. Several small incisions are made in the abdomen and special surgical instruments are used to remove the appendix. The procedure is minimally invasive, which means you will heal more quickly and experience less pain. However, some severe cases require open surgery with a larger incision.
For detailed information about treatment for appendicitis and complications associated with it, consult Dr. Karunakar Reddy, one of the most renowned gastroenterologists in Hyderabad.