A Definitive Guide on Appendicitis

Appendicitis affects 6-7% of the population in the US and in Europe. It often affects young people, those between the ages of 12 and 19. Women are 2.5 times more likely to undergo appendectomy than men are.

What is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix, which is a close-ended, narrow tube that attaches to the first part of the colon, or the cecum. The appendix has a worm-like appearance as its anatomical name suggests – vermiform appendix (worm-like appendage).

What are the possible Causes of Appendicitis?
It is believed that appendicitis is caused by a blockage in the opening from the appendix to the cecum. The blockage may be due to mucus, stool, or the swelling of the lymphatic tissue.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Appendicitis?
People suffering from appendicitis may exhibit several signs and symptoms, such as persistent pain from the navel to the lower right part of the abdomen, pain experienced when coughing or making sudden movements, soreness or sharp pain in the lower right abdomen, slight fever, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, swelling of the abdomen, and loss of appetite.

How is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
There are a several tests to check if you are suffering from appendicitis. After your doctor reviews your medical history, a physical exam will be conducted where gentle pressure is applied on the areas where you feel pain. If the pressure is suddenly eased, pain due to appendicitis will generally become worse. Your physician may also check for any rigidity in the abdominal area since the muscles in the abdomen tend to stiffen to guard the inflamed appendix.

An analysis of your urine (urinalysis) may also be done to make sure that the pain you are feeling is not due to urinary tract infection (UTI) or the presence of kidney stones.

A blood test may be performed to see whether your white blood cell count is high since it is indicative of an infection.

An ultrasound or an abdominal x-ray are procedures that can detect an abscess or an enlarged appendix.

How is Appendicitis Treated?
In most cases, appendicitis is treated through a surgery called appendectomy, wherein the inflamed appendix is removed. To remove the appendix, it is first released from its attachment to the colon and the abdomen. The appendix is severed from the colon and the resulting hole is sewed over. If there is an abscess, the pus is drained and the incision is closed.

Nowadays, the appendix may be removed without making a big incision on the abdomen. The procedure is called laparoscopy, where a fiber-optic tube, (a laparoscope) connected to a video camera, lets the surgeon see the inside of the abdomen through a small puncture. Once the surgeon confirms that the patient has appendicitis, he can remove the appendix by using instruments similar to the laparoscope, which can pass through small puncture wounds.

Many prefer laparoscopy to appendectomy since patients recover faster and experience less post-surgery pain.

There are no certain causes of appendicitis but since the condition seem to be more prevalent in cities that in villages, the answer may lie on the diet. So, make sure you consume as much fiber as you can to keep your body healthy.

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