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Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix.  The appendix is a finger-like pouch connected to the large intestineIt is located in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen (stomach). No one is absolutely certain what the function of the appendix is, but we cannot live without it.

What causes appendicitis?

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by a foreign body e.g. hard faeces. Blockage may also occur from infection as bacteria thrives and causes inflammation behind the blockage in the dead end of the appendix.

Appendicitis is common and can affect anyone of any age. Teenagers and young adults are the most commonly affected.

Symptoms

The condition usually starts as a pain in the centre of the abdomen. It then travels to the lower right-hand side and gradually gets worse.

Signs and symptoms of appendicitis may include:

  • Aching pain that begins around the middle of your stomach and often shifts to your lower right abdomen
  • Pain that becomes sharper over several hours
  • Tenderness that occurs when you apply pressure to your lower right abdomen
  • Sharp pain in your lower right abdomen that occurs when the area is pressed on and then the pressure is quickly released
  • Pain that worsens if you cough, walk or make other movements
  • Feeling sick and not wanting to eat
  • Fever and generally feeling unwell
  • Constipation may occur
  • Frequent passing of urine may develop
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling

Treatment

You should go to a hospital as soon as you suspect appendicitis. Appendicitis is a medical emergency that usually requires urgent surgery to remove the appendix. If left untreated, the appendix can burst and cause potentially life-threatening infections.

An operation to remove the inflamed appendix is usually done quite quickly once a diagnosis is made. It is much better to remove an inflamed appendix before it bursts.

Can appendicitis be prevented?

While there is no way to prevent appendicitis, the condition is less common in people who eat foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

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