Appendicitis / epityphlitis symptoms, diagnosis, causes and treatment

Appendix is a small tube like structure, with the size of around three and half inches long, extending out from the large intestine. Every one of us is borne with this part and it plays some role in the production of antibodies in case of an infection in the body. However, the exact purpose of this structure is not known and one can easily lead a normal life without it. Normally, you will not even feel or know that you have a structure like appendix, but when there is an infection, blockage or inflammation of this organ, you will start to feel the pain in your abdomen.

The infection or inflammation of the appendix is known as appendicitis or epityphlitis and it can be caused due to many reasons. When there is an infection of the appendix, the chance to control it with medication is really poor and there is always the risk of bursting of appendix which can lead to serious medical emergency. The infection causing the swelling of the appendix can spread out in the abdominal cavity in case the appendix bursts and hence doctors often prefer to remove it through surgery before things can turn worst.

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Abscessed appendicitis is a comparatively less urgent situation because in this case pus-filled abscess covers the inflamed appendix from the outside, separating it completely from the abdominal cavity. However, if the appendicitis is of the abscessed type or not that can be determined only after surgery and hence, in case of symptoms related to appendicitis, removal of the appendix through surgery is often considered as the first course of action by the doctors.

What causes appendicitis?

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We all have appendix but all of us do not suffer from the problem of appendicitis which will need the removal of the appendix. When there is an infection in the appendix, then only it gets inflamed and needs to be removed. Some of the common causes of appendicitis include blocking of the appendix with stool or a foreign body.

Cancer or irregular cell growth in the region can also cause the blockage, resulting into an inflamed appendix that needs to be removed. Any infection in the body or particularly in the appendix is the other common cause of appendicitis.

Appendicitis is just like another infection of a particular organ that can affect anyone. Appendicitis is most common amongst people in the age group of 10-30, but it does not mean that people below or over this age group cannot get this problem.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Having elaborated about appendicitis and the common causes of appendicitis now let us take a look at the common symptoms of appendicitis that will help you to identify the problem. If you happen to observe these symptoms, it is important that you visit your doctor at the earliest who will perform abdominal examination and certain tests to confirm if the symptoms are caused due to appendicitis or not.

The common symptoms of appendicitis involve,

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The first symptom of appendicitis as reported by more or less all the patients with the condition involves a dull pain in the upper abdomen or in the naval region, which slowly becomes severe as it moves to the right part of the lower abdomen. This particular type of pain is very commonly associated with appendicitis and should be taken as the first symptom of the problem. Other symptoms of the condition that may or may not appear in a particular case include,

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  • Complete loss of appetite. If you have an abdominal pain as described above along with complete appetite loss it can be a sign of appendicitis.
  • Nausea or vomiting along with abdominal pain as described above
  • A persisting temperature that is just above the normal body temperature
  • Swelling of the abdomen along with abdominal pain and other symptoms
  • Inability to pass gas is another common symptom that you can notice along with the other symptoms

Usually, more than one symptoms or all of the above symptoms appear in case of an appendicitis problem. However, you might have only one or two of the above symptoms to be diagnosed for appendicitis.

Diagnosis of appendicitis

There is no exact test that can confirm if you have an inflamed appendix that needs to be removed immediately. The diagnosis of appendicitis basically depends on the symptoms, results of abdominal examination by the doctor and a few other tests that basically focus on finding presence of infections in the body. In case the above symptoms persist in a patient and tests confirm that there are no other problems in the abdominal region, generally it is diagnosed as appendicitis which can be confirmed only after removal of the appendix.

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If the symptoms of a patient turn out to be positive for appendicitis, first the doctor performs an abdominal examination to locate the exact point of origination of the pain and inflammation. In the next step, urine tests are carried out to find if the symptoms are caused due to UTI. Pelvic exams, pregnancy tests and even abdominal imaging is done to find out that it is not an abscess in the abdominal region or some other complications that might be causing the symptoms. Chest X ray is also performed at times for right lower lobe pneumonia, because this condition also creates similar symptoms at times.

When the results of none of the above tests are found to be positive but the symptoms continue, the condition is diagnosed as appendicitis.

Treatments of appendicitis

The treatment needed for appendicitis often varies from patient to patient depending on the particular stage of the appendicitis and the severity of the symptoms. In case, the appendicitis is not at an alarming stage, your doctor might suggest some antibiotics just to check if the condition can be treated without surgery. On the other hand, if your symptoms are severe and the appendicitis is in an advanced stage, your doctor might prefer to do the surgery right away, to avoid bursting of the appendix which can be extremely serious.

Surgery of appendicitis can be performed as an open surgery or through laparoscopy depending on a number of factors. Laparoscopy surgery is less invasive and hence the recovery is even faster. In both the cases, antibiotics are prescribed to the patients before and after the procedure to ensure quick healing and complete recovery.

Preventing appendicitis

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Sadly, there is no exact way to prevent appendicitis. It is just like another infection or ailment that can strike anyone. However, studies have shown that taking a diet rich in fibers can reduce the risk of appendicitis. So, include more of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet to minimize the risk but that certainly does not ensure that you will not have appendicitis.

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