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The colon has a small, worm shaped appendage known as appendix. When bacteria invades appendix wall it causes appendicitis. The symptoms of appendicitis are varying and sometimes can lead to emergency surgery. Some of the most common complications of appendicitis include abscess, rupture and peritonitis.
Appendicitis mostly occurs when the appendix is blocked by a foreign object, blocked feces or in rare cases a tumor.
There are no particular symptoms of appendicitis as they vary depending upon whether the condition is affecting adults, children or nursing women. Mostly the first symptom starts with a shooting pain near the belly button. At first, the pain is so minor that it is simply unnoticeable. As time progresses the pain becomes severe and sharp and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, appetite or low fever.
The pain usually focuses on a spot that is directly above the appendix. This spot is known as McBurneys point. It shifts more towards the right lower part of the abdomen. These symptoms start surfacing after 12 to 24 hours from the formation of infection.
Sometimes when the appendix breaks open, you experience lessening of pain for a short time and you also feel better. Soon you become sicker and feel more pain. The pain worsens when you cough, walk or make sudden movements.
Diagnosis and Treatment
One of the ways appendicitis is suspected is based on the history of the patient. Physical examination is another consideration. But apart from these two, the diagnosis of appendicitis is carried out by evaluating the white blood cell count, abdominal X-ray, urinalysis, CT scan, barium enema, ultra-sonography and laparoscopy.
The proximity of the appendix to different organs and its varying size makes it difficult to differentiate the condition of appendicitis from pelvic and abdominal diseases. Several other health conditions can mimic appendicitis such as pelvic inflammatory disease, liver disease, inflammatory disease of the right upper abdomen, right-sided diverticulitis, perforated duodenal ulcer and kidney diseases.
Antibiotics and surgical removal of appendix through appendectomy is the only treatment. Appendectomy can cause serious complications such as abscess and wound infection.
Factors such as family history of appendicitis can put children below 2 years or adults above 70 years of age at risk of ruptured appendix. But there is nothing much you can do to prevent this condition except eating a healthy diet that include fresh fruits and vegetables.
Since ruptured appendix can be threatening to life, it is highly important that the condition be diagnosed at a very early stage.