Appendicitis Symptoms

Here are symptoms of appendicitis. Appendicitis, infection of the appendix, occurs less frequently today than it did in the past.

The appendix is a wormlike expansion of the large bowel (cecum) measuring one to three inches in length. It is located in the lower right portion of the abdomen at the beginning of the large intestine. Normally it is about as thick as a lead pencil and is pinkish gray in color. It serves no function in humans that we know of and is thought to be a residuum of our primitive past.


Appendicitis is an inflammation of the lining of the appendix spreading to its other portions. When an acute inflammation is involved, severe pain will be felt in the lower right part of the abdomen. By this time the appendix has usually become filled with pus. If not treated right away the infection can spread through the wall of the appendix and can turn into gangrene and rupture. Because of this, appendicitis is considered an emergency situation.


Appendicitis may be caused either by bacterial inflammation or by a viral infection occurring in the digestive tract. A bacterial infection can happen by a rigid particle of stool blocking its passageway causing pressure upon the blood vessels in the area. The inflammation can cause infection, a blood clot, or rupture of the appendix.

Before the age of antibiotics came along, appendicitis was known as a common abdominal surgery but it occurs less frequently today. Most often it is seen in young adults in their twenties through forties, but can occur in infants and older people. Many years ago people died from appendicitis including small infants. Rarely does it occur in children under three years of age anymore. And for some unknown reason the condition occurs less often today than it did twenty years ago.


· A physical exam based upon the symptoms.

· A urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection (UTI).

· Ultrasound can show an inflamed appendix.

· A blood count is taken to see if the white blood cell count is elevated, as is usually the case in acute appendicitis. If the doctor does suspect appendicitis, surgery will need to be performed within the next few hours. If not, the appendix can rupture and go into a condition known as peritonitis. Pus from the infected appendix spreads into the abdominal cavity, causing blood poisoning.


· Generalized abdominal cramps. Pain usually begins near the navel and moves down to the lower right. The pain becomes worse when the person moves or touches the area.

· Nausea or vomiting.

· Elevated temperature.

· Increased pulse rate.

· Loss of appetite.

· Constipation.

· Abdominal swelling.

In appendicitis these symptoms tend to become more severe as time passes. Not everyone with appendicitis has all the symptoms. Never should a laxative or enema be taken if you suspect appendicitis. These medications can cause the appendix to rupture.


Surgery to remove the inflamed appendix is known as an appendectomy. Many appendectomies now are performed through laparoscopic surgery in which the appendix is removed. This procedure involves several tiny cuts made into the abdomen and a miniature camera is inserted with instruments preventing the large unsightly scar of the past.

Today people can have their appendix removed and after some healing time return to their normal duties. We do not need our appendix to live and can continue with our same diet as long as it is a healthy one. About one in 500 people have appendicitis every year.

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