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Appendix

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen.

Appendicitis causes pain in your lower right abdomen. However, in most people, pain begins around the navel and then moves. As inflammation worsens, appendicitis pain typically increases and eventually becomes severe.

Although anyone can develop appendicitis, most often it occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30. Standard treatment is surgical removal of the appendix.

 

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of appendicitis may include:

• Sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen

• 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 jarring movements

• Nausea and vomiting

• Loss of appetite

• Low-grade fever that may worsen as the illness progresses

• Constipation or diarrhea

• Abdominal bloating

• Flatulence

The site of your pain may vary, depending on your age and the position of your appendix. When you’re pregnant, the pain may seem to come from your upper abdomen because your appendix is higher during pregnancy.

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When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with a doctor if you or your child has worrisome signs or symptoms. Severe abdominal pain requires immediate medical attention.

Causes

A blockage in the lining of the appendix that results in infection is the likely cause of appendicitis. The bacteria multiply rapidly, causing the appendix to become inflamed, swollen and filled with pus. If not treated promptly, the appendix can rupture.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications, such as:

 

• A ruptured appendix. A rupture spreads infection throughout your abdomen (peritonitis). Possibly life-threatening, this condition requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean your abdominal cavity.

• A pocket of pus that forms in the abdomen. If your appendix bursts, you may develop a pocket of infection (abscess). In most cases, a surgeon drains the abscess by placing a tube through your abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube is left in place for about two weeks, and you’re given antibiotics to clear the infection.

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Once the infection is clear, you’ll have surgery to remove the appendix. In some cases, the abscess is drained, and the appendix is removed immediately.

What does appendix pain feel like?

The most telltale symptom of appendicitis is a sudden, sharp pain that starts on the right side of your lower abdomen. It may also start near your belly button and then move lower to your right. The pain may feel like a cramp at first, and it may get worse when you cough, sneeze, or move.

What are the early warning signs of appendicitis?

The first sign that you might be experiencing and appendicitis is a pain in your upper abdomen, often around the belly button. Pain may start off dull, and as it moves towards the lower right abdomen, it becomes sharp. Nausea and vomiting can occur soon after, and a fever is usually present.

Tests to confirm appendicitis or rule out other conditions may include:

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• Computerized tomography (CT) scan.

• Abdominal ultrasound.

• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

• X-ray of the abdomen.

• Blood tests.

• Complete blood count (CBC)

• Urine tests to rule out kidney stones or urinary tract infection (UTI).

How long can you have appendicitis symptoms before it bursts?

Not all people will have the same symptoms, but it’s crucial that you see a doctor as quickly as possible. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the appendix can rupture as quickly as 48 to 72 hours after the onset of symptoms.

 

Can you survive a burst appendix?

Prognosis of Appendicitis.

 

Without surgery or antibiotics (as might occur in a person in a remote location without access to modern medical care), more than 50% of people with appendicitis die. For a ruptured appendix, the prognosis is more serious. Decades ago, a rupture was often fatal.

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