Appendicitis is a condition that affects the vermiform appendix, which is a small, finger-shaped, blind-ended tube, which juts out of the cecum (a part of the colon which forms the junction between the small intestine and the large intestine). The appendix is located at the lower right side of the abdomen, and has an average length of around ten centimeters, and a diameter of seven to eight millimeters. It is believed that, this organ does not have any function in the human body. However, an infection can cause inflammation of the appendix, which may result in complications, if left untreated. Chronic appendicitis may lead to rupture of the vermiform appendix, which can cause serious health problems, and even death.
As mentioned above, appendicitis is the term used to denote infection of the appendix, which causes inflammation of the organ. Even though, anybody can get affected by appendicitis, it has been observed most of the affected people are in the age group of ten to 30. The exact cause for appendicitis is still not clear. It has been contended that food waste or pieces of stool, get trapped in the cavity inside the vermiform appendix and causes appendicitis. This condition may also develop as an aftermath of gastrointestinal infections. In such cases, bacteria grow inside the appendix in a rapid manner, and the organ gets inflamed and filled with pus. The most common symptom of appendicitis is severe abdominal pain, that starts around the navel, and radiates to the lower right side of the abdomen. It may also cause vomiting, diarrhea, low-grade fever, and loss of appetite. This condition warrants immediate medical attention to prevent rupture of the appendix, which is a life-threatening condition. While chronic appendicitis requires surgery (appendectomy) to remove the organ, very mild cases are treated with antibiotics only. The latter category may opt for surgery, only if the condition worsens at a later stage.
Rupture of Appendix
Chronic appendicitis is a life-threatening condition, as the inflamed organ may rupture anytime. One of the major reasons for the rupture of the appendix is the delay in diagnosis and treatment. Usually, such rupture may happen after 36 hours from the onset of symptoms, but the chances are higher after 48 hours. So, surgery is indispensable, and should be performed without any unnecessary delay. Appendectomy can be complicated after the rupture of the appendix, as compared to the surgery which is performed to remove an inflamed, but intact appendix.
Symptoms of Appendix Rupture
Any delay in diagnosis and treatment may lead to the rupture of the appendix; which spills the contents, like pus, to the surroundings. These contents spread in the abdominal cavity. This results in infection of the abdominal cavity lining, and this condition is called peritonitis. This is a medical emergency, and if left untreated, the patient may slip into shock and even death. The following are some of the ruptured appendix symptoms.
- The person with appendicitis will have abdominal pain, especially in the right side of the lower abdomen. As the appendix ruptures, the pain may subside briefly. When the surroundings get infected and inflamed, the pain resurfaces and worsens over time.
- The area becomes tender, and the muscles around the inflamed organs get stiff. Even a small movement that involves the digestive system (like coughing or walking), can cause extreme pain.
- Another symptom is nausea, which may lead to occasional vomiting. The affected person may also experience loss of appetite and mild fever.
- Ruptured appendix symptoms may include digestive problems, renal failure, shakiness or tremors, inflammation of the whole body (sepsis), and electrolyte imbalances.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.