We already know that air pollution can cause a myriad of respiratory ailments. But did you know that filthy air may also cause appendicitis? The appendix is a small appendage attached to the colon. Appendicitis occurs when this part of the body becomes inflamed due to bacteria that has invaded and infected the wall of the appendix.
Common symptoms include:
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- abdominal tenderness
If the infected appendix is not removed through an appendectomy, it can burst and spread bacterial infection into the abdomen and bring serious health problems.
A new study that was published on October 5, 2011 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that cases of appendicitis are significantly higher when there is more air pollution. Dr. Gilaad G. Kaplan, senior author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the division of gastroenterology at the University of Calgary in Alberta Canada, states that the "underlying cause of appendicitis... could potentially be linked to air pollution".
It was noted in the study that cases of appendicitis grew dramatically in the late 19th century up to early 20th century when industrialization took place. During the middle and latter parts of the last century, cases have begun to decline after legislation for cleaner air was launched. Researchers also pointed out that countries that are just starting with industrialization have steady increasing rates of appendicitis.
Some experts think that appendicitis, which occurs when the opening is blocked, is caused by low fiber intake that is common among the citizens of industrialized countries. Researchers counter this by saying that it doesn't explain the decline in rate that happened in the later parts of the 20th century.
Not only that, they also found that there were more cases of appendicitis during the warmest months of the year, when people are more likely to spend long hours each day outdoors. Men have also been found to be more prone to appendicitis than women but the research was not able to clarify the role that gender played in this matter.
As to how air quality and appendicitis are linked is not yet clear. At this early point of research, the implications of air pollution on appendicitis are not yet established. A theory from the senior author of the study is that air pollution may be promoting inflammation which in turn triggers the appendicitis. Kaplan said that more research is necessary to confirm and replicate the findings of this study.
If it is found that air pollution does increase the risk of appendicitis, then it gives legislators more good reasons to establish laws that will control air pollution and promote cleaner air.