What is appendicitis?
Your appendix is a small finger-shaped hollow tube on the end of your large intestine. Appendicitis is an inflammation that causes your appendix to swell and become infected.
Appendicitis is a common problem
Common symptoms are belly pain, feeling sick to your stomach, and fever
Doctors treat appendicitis with surgery and antibiotics
If appendicitis isn't treated, your appendix can burst (rupture). This causes an infection in your belly called peritonitis. Peritonitis can be life-threatening.
What causes appendicitis?
Appendicitis is usually caused when something, such as a tiny piece of hard stool (poop), blocks your appendix. The blockage causes infection and swelling.
What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
Symptoms of appendicitis include:
Pain that starts in the middle part of your upper belly area and shifts to your right lower belly
Pain that gradually gets worse over a day or two
More pain when you move or cough or when someone presses on the sore spot
Loss of appetite
Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up
Sometimes fever of 100° to 101° F (37.7° to 38.3° C)
In many people and in babies and children:
Pain may be all over the belly, not just the lower right
In older people and in pregnant women:
Pain may be less severe and the belly area less tender
If your appendix bursts:
You may have less pain for several hours
Then, pain becomes severe
The infection can spread inside your belly (a condition called peritonitis)
The infection can spread to your bloodstream causing some of your organs to stop working normally (sepsis Sepsis Sepsis is when germs (bacteria) get into your bloodstream and trigger a serious body-wide reaction. When sepsis is severe, one or more of your organs may shut down. For example, your kidneys... read more ) and your blood pressure to become dangerously low (septic shock Sepsis Sepsis is when germs (bacteria) get into your bloodstream and trigger a serious body-wide reaction. When sepsis is severe, one or more of your organs may shut down. For example, your kidneys... read more )
How can doctors tell if I have appendicitis?
Doctors sometimes diagnose appendicitis based on your symptoms and physical examination. But usually they'll also do:
A CT scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more or ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more
They're more likely to use ultrasound for children and a CT scan for adults.
How do doctors treat appendicitis?
Doctors treat appendicitis with:
Surgery to remove your appendix through either an open cut or a laparoscope
Give antibiotics directly into a vein (IV)
If your appendix has already burst at the time of surgery, you'll need to stay in the hospital and get IV antibiotics and fluids for a longer time to avoid sepsis.