Warning Signs of Appendicitis


Appendicitis, is defined as the inflammation of appendix, a pear shaped like structure located adjacent to the large intestine, at the lower right side of abdomen (right iliac fossa).

This condition can occur as a result of an obstruction or blockage in the organ, mostly due to fecal matter, mucus, foreign bodies or pathogenic organisms (parasites). When these external substances get accumulated, they will cause irritation in the site resulting in inflammation where the appendix would become red, swollen and sore.

Appendix is a vestigial organ, which means an individual can live healthily even without the presence of it. The importance of it in the human body is still doubtful, but according to some scientists, it is an organ which plays a minor role in our immunity system.

Symptoms of Appendicitis may range from a mild abdominal pain to a life threatening emergency especially in the case of a ruptured appendix which can result in generalized Peritonitis. Also, most of the symptoms may vary from one person to another, making it difficult to make an exact diagnosis at a glance. But, being a condition which is diagnosed clinically there are some important signs and symptoms to be noted carefully to prevent a danger to life.

Abdominal pain, fever, nausea, vomiting and disturbed bowel habits are known to be prominent symptoms of appendicitis.

Most of the affected patients will have a gradual onset of dull, achy or cramping like pain, all over the abdomen, which then become localized around the umbilicus (belly button) and gradually radiates to the right lower abdomen resulting in a sharp localized pain in the area (migratory pain). With time, the pain will become worsen and sharp, making the patient restless. However, in some people the appendix can be located behind the colon which will then cause a lower back pain or pelvic pain instead of this typical pain.

Patients with Appendicitis will also complain of a mild temperature between 99°F-100.5°F which may or may not be associated with chills. If the appendix ruptures and gives rise to an infection, it will increase the temperature, more than expected. Therefore, if an individual develops a temperature greater than 101°F with an increased heart rate, medical care should be sought as soon as possible since there is chance of a ruptured appendix.

Additionally, Appendicitis can also cause several vague symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loose stools, constipation, loss of appetite and rarely difficulty in passing urine. If a person presents with above mentioned features along with the failure to pass gas (flatus), there is a high chance of a bowel obstruction most likely due to an inflamed appendix.

Furthermore, as far as Appendicitis, in infants and small children is concerned, they may often fail in pin pointing the discomfort or pain they are having. According to the way they describe their illness, the physician might tend to think of many possibilities such as urinary tract infection or gastroenteritis (stomach bug), so that various unnecessary investigations might have to be carried out to come to an accurate diagnosis. However, somehow or the other, it is important to establish the exact diagnosis of appendicitis , since life threatening Peritonitis following a ruptured appendix is possible within 48-72 hours after the onset of first most symptoms.

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