The appendix is a strange organ because it does not serve any purpose. No one really knows what its function is. However, an inflammation of the appendix can cause death.
What is Appendicitis?
The appendix is located on the lower right side of the abdomen. It is a 3-1/2 inch finger-like organ that extends from the colon or the large intestine. Although there are arguments about the purpose of the organ, no one is absolutely certain of its function. People can live without this organ. Its removal does not cause any unfavorable consequences. Ironically, when the appendix becomes inflamed, reddened and filled with pus, this results to appendicitis which, if untreated, can cause death.
Anyone can actually develop this condition; although it is common among people aged 10 to 30. It rarely occurs in babies or toddlers. However, 1 out of 15 people will likely suffer this condition.
This often requires immediate medical attention. People suffering from this medical problem will have to undergo a surgical procedure to have the organ excised. In fact, there is no other alternative treatment but surgery. The appendix needs to be removed before it bursts or perforates. The perforation can lead to peritonitis which can cause death.
Causes of Appendicitis
This medical condition occurs when the appendix is blocked by foreign bodies or body wastes. Appendicitis can also be a complication of or symptom of cancer. An infection may also cause the inflammation because it often swells when there is an infection.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
Symptoms of this condition usually begin with a pain that starts around the navel. Over time, the pain gradually shifts to the lower right side of the abdomen. As the condition worsens, the pain increases as well. Over 6 to 12 hours, the pain can worsen from a localized vague pain to something that is completely debilitating.
Other classic symptoms of the condition includes loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling, fever, inability to move your bowels, difficulty to pass gas, dull upper or lower abdominal pain, back pain, rectal pain, pain with urination, vomiting, severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
Not all of these symptoms manifest however. People actually experience varying symptoms. Some may experience a combination of these symptoms while others may only experience severe abdominal pain. Of course, there are some people who actually suffer all of these symptoms.
Treating the Condition
It is difficult to diagnose this condition. The symptoms are oftentimes vague and non-localized. They can also be similar to symptoms of other common illnesses like urinary tract infection, gastritis, gallbladder diseases and other medical problems.
To properly diagnose the condition, the person suffering from it may have to undergo an abdominal and rectal exam. They may have to undergo a urine test and blood test to rule out possible causes like urinary infection or other infections. The physician may also advise an ultrasound or CT scan.
When to Call Your Physician
If you are suffering from abdominal pain that is similar to the above mentioned symptoms, you need to seek prompt medical attention. Make sure that you do not eat or drink anything. Avoid taking pain killers, laxatives, antacids and do not use heating pads. The latter remedy may cause your appendix to burst.
Prompt medical attention when you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis is vital to its treatment. You should immediately seek medical intervention or visit the nearest emergency room.