Published: 12/17/2014 - Updated: 12/31/2017
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Although this condition can be quickly resolved with surgical intervention, appendicitis continues to cause unfortunate deaths. When not treated in time at a health center it can unleash dangerous peritonitis.
That is why it is important that all individuals know the difference between appendicitis and any other stomach pain, and undergo a medical exam; between the exam and all the other tests that the doctor orders, you could spend more than four hours to get a definitive diagnosis, and the appendicitis could get worse.
What causes Appendicitis?
In general, there is still no consensus or study that defines what causes appendicitis. In some cases, we know that it is caused by an obstruction of the appendix from fecal material that accumulates there.
How to tell the difference
Normally, appendicitis starts with abdominal pain around the belly button, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and in some cases, low grade fevers that could increase.
Then the pain gradually increases until spreading to the right lower quadrant. The patient begins to feel the urgent need to urinate with abnormal frequency. In cases that affect children two years of age, the more common symptoms are vomiting and a swollen abdomen, as well as intense pain that could be intermittent at times, or that could even become acute and persistent.
Once you see a specialist, the diagnosis will be given after several exams, which could consist of blood work, a urine sample, and X-rays of the abdomen and thorax, as well as a computerize axial tomography (CAT scan) of the affected area. Of course, this depends on the doctor, who may use a simple abdominal palpitation. If the condition is fairly advanced, they will be able to detect it.
In this case, surgical intervention will be used to remove the appendix, which is known as an appendectomy. This does not imply severe consequences for the patient afterwards. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
If a diagnosis is not given in time, the appendix, which is the size of a finger and is attached to the large intestine in the right lower quadrant, could explode and infect the entire body with bacteria and fecal material that could have been inside it. This is known as peritonitis.
Patients in this grave state can survive if the infections does not spread throughout the entire body, and remains in just a few areas where it can be drained; however, this does not happen in all cases. Some patients die just a few days later from sepsis, or in some cases, death is nearly immediate.
Can appendicitis be prevented? That is a common question, and because we still don’t know exactly what causes the appendix to become obstructed and infected with fecal material, there are a few guesses that could come close to the truth, which are often times recommended by doctors.
The first is to follow the healthiest diet possible, rich in fiber. Fiber makes greater fecal movement possible.
Other unproven beliefs show that ingesting seeds and fruit seeds could also block appendix irrigation.
Because the exact cause is still unknown, it’s best to pay attention to everything previously said, including the “seeds”. For example, seeds from tomatoes and pickles that don’t have a lot of nutrients, it’s better to get rid of them and not eat them.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 12/31/2017
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