Do you know where your appendix is? You may have heard of it, but don’t know where it is located or what it does. But, when it acts up it can create a true medical emergency. So you really need to know how to spot appendicitis.
The appendix is a vestigial organ in the body. This means that it once had a purpose in the body but doesn’t anymore. It just hangs there doing nothing.
It is called the vermiform appendix because it resembles a fat little worm. It is located at the end of the cecum (a portion of the large intestine). Usually, it doesn’t cause problems, but it can become inflamed if fecal matter gets trapped within its walls. The appendix can swell to double its size or more from the inflammation. Inflammation that is untreated can spread bacteria throughout the walls of the appendix, leading to a rupture.
If the appendix ruptures, then fecal matter and bacteria will spill into the abdominal cavity causing a condition known as peritonitis. Untreated, peritonitis can make you very sick and septic, leading to death in some cases. It is imperative that the appendix is removed before rupture occurs to avoid these complications.
So, how do you know if you have appendicitis? The appendix is located in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. In this region or anywhere near this region, you may experience abdominal pain. The pain begins once the appendix has become infected by fecal matter impacted in it and bacteria are beginning to swarm.
Doctors also talk about rebound tenderness. This means that when the affected area is pressed, there is not any pain until the hand is removed and the tissue moves back out. This is common in cases of appendicitis.
Because there is an infection going on, white blood cells are racing to the site to fight off the bacteria. On the outside, you will feel overcome by fever. Along with it, you may experience vomiting and nausea. There is a lack of appetite from the pain and nausea.
If you experience these symptoms, get to a doctor at an emergency room right away. You never know how close you might be to a rupture unless you are examined by medical professionals. They can give you something for the pain while they investigate your symptoms.
Treatment for your appendicitis may include antibiotics. If you do not have really severe pain and the appendix is not trying to rupture, antibiotics may diffuse the situation and return the appendix to normal. You will be kept under observation to see if the treatment is working and you don’t need surgery.
Appendicitis can become a true medical emergency if the appendix is severely infected and ruptures. You usually experience pain and fever from the infection, so medical attention is always needed.