Appendix - a hollow 3.5 inch-long organ that hangs from the occum at the junction between the
small intestine and
the first part of the large intestine.
No Use In Humans
The appendix does not function in humans. It is an ancestral remnant from times when humans had to digest foods like grass and tree bark.
If food gets trapped in the appendix, an irritation of its membranes may occur leading to swelling and inflammation,
a condition known as appendicitis.
If the condition becomes serious, removal of the appendix is necessary to avoid a life-threatening condition if it were to rupture.
People can live without it, without apparent consequences.
Left untreated, an inflamed appendix will eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity.
This can lead to peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity's lining that can be fatal unless it is treated quickly with
Sometimes a pus-filled abscess (infection that is walled off from the rest of the body) forms outside the inflamed appendix.
Scar tissue then "walls off" the appendix from the rest of the abdomen, preventing infection from spreading.
An abscessed appendix is a less urgent situation, but can only be identified with surgery.
For this reason, all cases of appendicitis are treated as emergencies, requiring surgery.
In the U.S., 1 in 15 people will get appendicitis. Although it can strike at any age,
appendicitis is rare under age 2 and most common between ages 10 and 30.
Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, sometimes by stool, a foreign body, cancer, or infection.
Since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body.
- First sign: Dull pain near the belly button or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp and moves to the lower right or any part of
the abdomen, even on the side or back
- Nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal swelling
- Inability to pass gas
- High fever with body temperatures of 99F to 102F
- Continuing dull or sharp pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back or rectum
- Painful urination
- Vomiting or constipation or diarrhea with gas
- Severe cramps
- Pain worsens if you move, walk, or cough
When to do if Experiencing Appendicitis Symptoms
- Do not eat, drink, or use any pain remedies, antacids, laxatives, or heating pads. They can cause an inflamed appendix to rupture
- If you have moderate stomach pain that does not go away after 4 hours, call your doctor
- If you have severe abdomen pain, seek medical attention immediately since timely diagnosis and treatment is very important
Doctors Diagnose Appendicitis
Doctors perform the following tests:
- Abdominal exam to detect inflammation
- CT scans and/or ultrasound
- Urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Rectal exam
- Blood test to see if your body is fighting infection
Surgery to remove the appendix (appendectomy) is the standard treatment.
If appendicitis is even suspected, doctors tend to err on the side of safety and quickly remove the appendix to avoid its rupture.
If the appendix has formed an abscess, you may have two procedures: one to drain the abscess of pus and fluid, and a later one to remove
Different types of surgery for Appendicitis
Surgeon may operate through a large cut (incision) in your belly or use a tool called a laparoscope to remove your appendix
through a few smaller incisions.
There is no way to prevent appendicitis. However, appendicitis is less common in people who eat foods high in fiber,
such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Problems with the appendix as well as the rest of the digestive system and at times the overall body, can often be noticed early through
symptoms present in stool and urine. Monitor your defecation for
signs of abnormality like strange colors, blood, constipation or frequent loose stools.