Appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small pouch, which is the size and shape of a finger. It is located in the lower right side of the abdomen and is attached to the large intestine. While the usefulness of the appendix is not quite known, it does produce mucus which travels to the large intestine.
Appendicitis occurs most commonly between the ages of 5 and 30, and is caused by inflammation or obstruction of the appendix. Obstruction may be caused by parasites, feces, inflammatory bowel disease, enlarged lymph tissues or some trauma to the abdomen. The obstruction prevents the mucus from being emptied into the large intestines, and thus causes infection and inflammation.
If left untreated, the appendix may even burst, leading to peritonitis, which can be dangerous and even fatal. Since removing an appendix has no harmful effect on a person’s health, doctors recommend removing it surgically in case a person is suffering from appendicitis. So, it is best to get yourself tested if you display any symptoms.
You may get pain and tenderness in the lower right abdomen or around the navel. The pain usually starts near the navel and moves gradually towards the lower right of the abdomen. The pain starts suddenly, and gradually gets worse when you move or when you touch that spot. This may be accompanied by loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, and sometimes even by a low grade fever which indicates inflammation. Some people get abdominal swelling and are also unable to pass gas even though they get a feeling that passing stool would relieve the discomfort. As the infection and inflammation becomes worse, even coughing, sneezing or taking a deep breath may be extremely painful.
There is no one specific test for appendicitis and your doctor may recommend a few lab and imaging tests to get the correct diagnosis.
Your doctor will first perform a physical check-up to locate the pain. You may then be advised an ultrasound or a CT scan. The latter is more accurate in giving a correct diagnosis. But ultrasound is usually advised for children and pregnant women who cannot have a CT scan.
Along with this you will be asked to undergo a blood test, to find any signs of infection.
A urine test is also ordered to rule out a urinary tract infection, or kidney stones, since they often have similar patterns of symptoms. A further pregnancy test may also be ordered in women, to ensure that she is not pregnant.
Submitted by M T on April 21, 2010 at 12:43