Appendicitis: Causes and Symptoms

Appendicitis is a serious condition in which the appendix, that little mystery of unknown function attached to the large intestion, gets infected and inflamed (also for unknown reasons) and causes one helluva stomach ache. Since the appendix can burst and spread infection to other organs, which can be life-threatening, once a person realizes the signs of appendicitis they should see a doctor. The only treatment for appendicitis is in removing the appendix, which does not affect a person’s livelihood once the organ is removed.

Who can get appendicitis? Well, anyone really, and it’s actually somewhat common- afflicting almost 10% of the human population at any given time. Typically, however, people under age 30 are most likely to get appendicitis, which shows pretty nasty symptoms that rush most people to the ER for help. Sometimes, the ’cause’ for appendicitis lies in a small piece of fecal matter (yeah, gross) that gets stuck in the appendix as it moves through the large intestine, but again, doctors still have no clue why the appendix gets infected in the first place, or even what the appendix is used for in the body.

The most common sign of appendicitis is a stomach ache, near the belly button. As the symptoms get worse, the pain usually moves to the lower abdomen on the right side, and the pain remains constant. The pain worsens when a person laughs, coughs, or bends over, or hurts worse when they sit down or walk. But a lot of people with appendicitis simply don’t feel well for a few days, and only go to a doctor because they feel like they have a flu that won’t go away or they think they have another infection (like a kidney or bladder infection) that needs to be treated. Bloating and severe pain can accompany appendicitis, but the severity of the symptoms vary from person to person.

Diagnosing appendicitis is fairly simple- sometimes an ultrasound is done on the belly to locate an infected appendix or blood can be drawn to test for infection, but usually simple prodding on the belly to locate pain and simply asking the patient about their symptoms is enough for a doctor to suggest taking the appendix out. Since the body has no real use for the appendix, it’s almost always recommended to remove it even if the appendix may not be the cause for the pain of the patient. Basically, if it sounds like appendix issues, the appendix will come out. The body functions just as well without the appendix as it does with it.


sister who is a Dr. assistant and sees many appendicitis patients

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