If you are experiencing bad stomach pains, then there’s a chance that this could be down to appendicitis.
Appendicitis happens when your appendix – a small finger-shaped pouch of about 5cm to 10cm – gets inflamed and begins to swell. Although not immediately serious, as the inflammation worsens, the pain can increase and the appendix could even burst. If this were to happen, the chances of infection in the belly – known as peritonitis – could worsen and can become life-threatening.
What Is An Appendix?
The strange thing about appendicitis being common is that we don’t even know what the appendix actually does. According to some doctors, it is useless, but others have queried whether it is a place for the body to store healthy gut bacteria.
Some have even pondered whether the appendix was important at the beginning of our evolution cycle, forming a vestigial organ to help digest herbivorous food for our ancestors. No one really knows, however. What we do know is that an inflammation of the appendix can be dangerous.
How Is Appendicitis Treated?
Appendicitis is generally treated with antibiotics and surgery to remove the appendix. Known as appendectomy, surgeons will use a scalpel to make an incision at the lower right-hand side of the abdomen, and then a self-retaining surgical retractor to hold open the incision and remove the appendix. If the infection is already widespread, surgeons will make the incision along the middle of the abdomen – this is known as peritonitis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Appendicitis?
There are many warning signs for appendicitis. One of the most common is sudden pain that begins in the belly and then spreads to the right side of the lower abdomen. Another common symptom is pain that begins around the navel. Other early symptoms of appendicitis include pain that worsens while moving or coughing, nausea, vomiting, a loss of appetite, fever, constipation, and abdominal bloating.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor and see if they can make a diagnosis. If your abdominal pain is already extensive, then it will require immediate medical attention, meaning you should go to the hospital as soon as you can.
Why Is Appendicitis So Common?
The reason why appendicitis is so common is because everyone has an appendix. The cause is typically a blockage in the lining which becomes infected. The bacteria associated with the infection can multiply quickly, causing the appendix to swell and fill with pus. This usually occurs in people between the ages of 10 to 30, and it generally affects more males than it does females. That being said, appendicitis can happen to anyone at any time in their life.
What Should You Do If You Are Unsure Of Symptoms?
If you think that you might be experiencing some of the symptoms described, then as mentioned before, what you should do will depend on your pain level. If the pain is getting worse, then it’s a good idea to get to the hospital quickly.
If they are mild symptoms, you can book an appointment with your doctor. It’s important to take these symptoms seriously. Although appendicitis requires a relatively simple operation to resolve, it is still a serious matter if you leave it untreated.