Appendix is a tube-like organ attached to the caecum; it marks the beginning of the large intestine. It is usually located in the lower abdomen on the right side. The open central core of the appendix drains into the caecum. It is when this opening is blocked that the appendix swells and appendicitis sets in. If this blockage (due to build up of stool or thick mucous or swelling of the lymphatic tissue in the appendix) continues, the inflamed tissue becomes infected with bacteria and begins to die from a lack of blood supply. This may result in the rupture of the appendix. And if appendicitis is not treated on time, there are chances of appendix breaking open and the infection can spread to other parts of the body.
Though the function of appendix is not yet clear, appendicitis may lead to serious health problems and medical emergency. Appendicitis cannot be prevented. However, it is said that it is less common in people who take diet rich in fibre and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Signs and symptoms
It has been observed that appendicitis is mostly seen in people in the age group of 10 to 30 years. Mentioned below are the common symptoms experienced by people suffering from appendicitis. However, it’s not necessary that all the patients show all these signs and symptoms.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild fever
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Loss of appetite
- Initial pain around the navel followed by tenderness on the right-hand side of the abdomen
Diagnosis of appendicitis is very difficult as the disease shows symptoms that are similar to many other common diseases. Therefore, most of the doctors prefer to keep the patient under observation and keep a track of the symptoms, their frequency and severity. If the patient remains stable and shows some signs of improvement with time, there’s no need to operate. However, if these symptoms worsen, further treatment is recommended.
Appendicitis is a serious health problem and needs immediate treatment. In most of the cases of appendicitis, the treatment involves removal of the appendix by performing a keyhole surgery known as appendicectomy. Antibiotics are prescribed before an appendectomy to fight possible peritonitis (inflammation of abdominal cavity lining). Taking care of the patient after the surgery is also very important or it may give rise to complications.