Symptoms of Appendicitis

November 12, 2012

Symptoms of Appendicitis

Because the symptoms of appendicitis are vague and can vary in individual patients extra care must be taken when diagnosing someone suffering from the condition.

Appendicitis – What is it?

The appendix is small and is a worm shaped appendage that is connected to the colon. The medical terminology for the appendix is vermiform appendix which means worm like appendage.

Appendicitis is the medical term for inflammation of the appendix. The symptoms of appendicitis may start when the opening from the appendix into the cecum becomes blocked. This may be caused due to a thick mucus building up within the appendix. Stools going into the appendix from the cecum can also contribute to this blockage. Because these stools or mucus become hard like a rock the opening becomes blocked or they may cause swelling of the lymphatic tissue within the appendix.

After this blockage happens, bacteria that is usually to be found in the appendix begins to infect the appendix wall and the body reacts to this invasion by attacking the bacteria. Another cause of appendicitis is that an opening in the appendix develops which allows the bacteria to spread. The cause of this rupture may occur due to changes in the lymphatic tissue leading to inflammation on the appendix wall.

Bacteria that infect and invade the appendix wall causes appendicitis and common complications which can occur with appendicitis are an abscess or peritonitis. Symptoms of appendicitis include nausea and vomiting, pain and tenderness in the abdomen and appetite loss.

How to Diagnose and Treat Appendicitis

The diagnosis of appendicitis is normally based on a physical examination and the patient’s medical history. An abdominal x-ray can be used to help in the diagnosis as well as a barium enema, urine analysis, testing the white blood cell levels, laparoscopy or CT scan.

The normal treatment for appendicitis is with antibiotics and surgical removal of the appendix. Complications associated with an appendectomy are abscess and wound infection. The appendix may rupture if an infection or inflammation spread throughout the appendix wall. If there is a rupture this can cause the infection to spread in the abdomen but it is normally limited to a small section which surrounds the appendix and forms a peri-appendiceal abscess.

Surgical procedures may not have to be carried out in certain patients should the infection and inflammation fail to spread inside the abdomen and the symptoms of appendicitis such as the pain and inflammation may disappear altogether. This seems to be more common in patients who are elderly and have been given antibiotics. It may be they visit a doctor a while after experiencing the pain associated with appendicitis symptoms and a mass or lump in the right hand side of the lower abdomen has occurred. This is due to scarring which has happened during the healing process. Any lump could raise concerns of cancer in the patient.

Diagnosing appendicitis correctly, rather than other abdominal or pelvic disease can be difficult because of different sizes of the appendix, where it is located and also the proximity to the other organs in the body.

Other signs which can sometimes mimic the symptoms of appendicitis include: Meckel’s diverticultis, pelvic inflammatory disease, gallbladder, liver, kidney disease, right sided diverticulitis and a perforated duodenal ulcer.

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