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So What Exactly Is Appendicitis?

By DuPage Medical Group Surgery

The appendix is a finger-shaped pouch that sits within the lower right side of the abdomen; the appendix does not seem to have any specific function in the body.

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. The appendix can become blocked by feces, a foreign object, or on rare occasions, a tumor. Since the signs and symptoms of appendicitis can vary, it can be difficult to diagnose appendicitis in young children, the elderly and women of childbearing age.

Common signs and symptoms of appendicitis can include the following:

 •Sudden pain that begins on the right side of the lower abdomen, or that begins around your navel and shifts to your lower right abdomen.

•Pain that worsens with coughing, walking, or other movements

•Nausea and vomiting

•Loss of appetite

•Low-grade fever that may worsen

•Constipation or diarrhea

•Abdominal bloating

A combination of these symptoms may indicate a need to see a doctor right away as severe abdominal pain can require immediate medical attention. Evaluation of symptoms can include a history and physical and potential imaging with a CT or ultrasound to confirm appendicitis.  If left untreated, the appendix can burst and spread infection throughout the abdomen.

Appendicitis is typically treated by having your appendix surgically removed (appendectomy). Surgery can be performed through open or laparoscopic technique. In some cases, non-operative management may be possible with antibiotic treatment.

If you have appendicitis, expect to spend a few weeks to fully recover. Post-operatively to help your body heal, avoid strenuous activity in the beginning, support your abdomen when you cough (place a pillow over your abdomen and apply slight pressure when you cough), sleep when you are tired, get up and move only when you are ready and discuss any continuous pain with your doctor. 

Topics and Subtopics: Autoimmune Diseases

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