Your appendix is a small organ attached to the intestines in the lower abdomen and researchers still don’t know the purpose for this organ. It can become blocked and inflamed leading to appendicitis. The condition can be very painful and serious if the appendix ruptures. Appendicitis is common in kids and adults between the ages of 10 and 30, but can happen to anyone. It is estimated that one out of every fifteen people will suffer from appendicitis at some point in their lives. Read on to learn more about this condition.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
At first, the symptoms of appendicitis may be mistaken for other conditions. Understand that any form of severe abdominal pain should be evaluated in the emergency room right away. Symptoms of appendicitis are:
Pain, sometimes sharp in the area of the lower right side of the abdomen
Nausea and vomiting
Swelling in the abdomen
Fever ranging from 99.0° to 102.0° F
No passing of gas or bowel movement
Pain in the rectum
Pain with urination
What Causes Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is the acute inflammation of your appendix, usually caused by blockage. The blockage is tends to be fecal matter that has calcified. It can also be due to a viral infection that has caused lymphoid tissue within the appendix to swell. Other causes are due to tumors, gallstones, or even parasitic infections.
Blockages cause reduced blood flow and lead to bacterial growth and infection. This causes the appendix to swell and may even possibly rupture. If it ruptures, the bacteria will go into the abdominal cavity and the condition becomes very serious.
Risk Factors for Appendicitis
The risk factors for appendicitis include:
Ages between 10 years and 30 years
Family history of appendicitis
History of cystic fibrosis
If you or someone you care for has symptoms of appendicitis, medical evaluation is needed right away. Doctor’s will look at the following:
Physical Signs After taking a medical history of your symptoms, the doctor will check different parts of the abdomen for pain. Often when doing this, removal of the hands causes a sharp pain. Your abdomen will also be checked for firmness and stiffness. You may also need a rectal or pelvic examination.
Lab Tests A complete blood count is obtained to check for high white blood cells. This shows inflammation/infection. A urine test is done to make sure pain isn’t coming from kidney stones or a bladder infection.
CT Scan or Ultrasound These are done to check the size of the appendix or to rule out another reason for the abdominal pain.
If you are diagnosed with appendicitis, the usual treatment is surgery. This is done right away to prevent the appendix from rupturing and causing further issues. The only time surgery is not performed right away is if there is an abscess. This is a pus-filled sac that forms outside of the appendix and seals itself off. The abscess must be drained first. Then an appendectomy (surgical removal of the appendix) is done a few weeks later.
Patients are put on intravenous antibiotics as soon as they are diagnosed in the case any bacteria leaked into the system. Even if there was no bacterial leakage prior to surgery, sometimes the appendix can rupture during surgery, so the antibiotics will have you covered!
An appendectomy is usually performed via laparoscopy, which makes very small incisions in the abdomen. You can be up and around just a few hours after your surgery and can even go home the same day if there are no complications. In severe appendicitis or in the case of rupture, a traditional open surgery may be performed.
Home Remedies for Appendicitis
An appendicitis is a medical emergency and should be evaluated and treated by a physician. If the doctor does decide to “watch and wait” and send you home there are a few natural remedies you can use to help cleanse the appendix. While they are not a cure, they may help while you are waiting for surgery.
Turmeric and Ginger Take ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix in ginger juice and honey. You can take this two times a day to help relieve inflammation and pain.
Increase Fiber Whether you have surgery or not, increasing fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables can help with constipation and bowel cleansing.
Buttermilk Anything with natural probiotics can help keep the bacterial levels down in the appendix.
Basil Tea This can help to reduce the fever that comes with appendicitis.
Lifestyle Changes for an Appendicitis
After surgery for appendicitis, the following lifestyle changes may need to be made to help the recovery period go faster.
Take it easy the first few days after surgery and avoid heavy lifting. If a laparoscopic procedure was done, about 3 to 5 days recovery time is needed while an open procedure requires 10 to 14 days. Rest as much as your body tells you too. Sleep is restorative and helps you heal faster. Lay down when you feel tired.
Use a pillow on your abdomen to cough. This will help relieve any pain.
Increase activity as tolerated. A little walking is good to get your bowels moving and help you pass gas. Only walk until you feel tired and then rest.
Drink plenty of fluids. This will help your body heal and prevent constipation, which can be common after bowel surgery.
There really is no “sure-fire” way to prevent appendicitis from happening. Appendicitis is about as mysterious as why the appendix is even there. You can take precautions to keep your bowels moving regularly and prevent fecal build-up. This includes eating healthy and drinking plenty of fluids.
Some studies in other countries have shown that people who eat less meat, processed foods, and sugar have less chances of developing appendicitis. This includes a diet that is high in fiber rich foods such as wheat germ, bran, fresh fruits, and vegetables.