Appendix is a tiny finger shaped organ in the stomach without any purpose. It is actually a small bag like structure found on the right side of the abdomen. Though it does not have any function still it can become infected and cause discomfort and pain. Appendicitis pain starts from the center of the stomach and spreads towards the right lower portion. The pain would become intense over time and in some cases it would become severe if it ruptures inside.
Appendix is a thin tube measuring 5-10 cm in length and parts of undigested food particles can get collected in this region causing infection. Appendix becomes swollen when it gets infected and that is called as inflamed appendix. There is no cure for appendicitis and it has to be removed surgically.
Some of the common symptoms of inflamed appendix are aching pain that increases over time, constipation, fever and nausea. The pain begins in the navel area which would then spread towards the right lower portion of the stomach. If the stomach area is pressed there would be sharp pain and when it is released there will be no pain.
For many people it all begins as dull aching pain which proceeds over hours to become intolerable pain. The right lower part of the abdomen will be tender and warm. The pain would increase if the person walks or coughs or make any other movements. The pain can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, constipation and swelling in the abdomen. For children the pain would be felt in different parts of the stomach.
Who are at risk?
Appendicitis can develop to anyone irrespective of their age and sex. It is more common in young adults of age 15-30 years. Experts believe that people who consume low fiber diet are more prone to get inflamed appendix than others.
Exact cause of inflammation in the appendix region is not known. It is believed to be caused by blockage of undigested food or fecal particles I the opening of the tube (caecum) than runs along the length of appendix. Due to accumulation of waste particles in the appendix there is every chance for developing viral or bacterial infection leading to inflammation of appendix.
In some cases if the inflamed appendix is left untreated for several hours, it can rupture inside to pour off the waste particles and other contents into the abdomen. This would cause severe infection. There is chance for developing a perforation in the appendix due to excess of pressure inside which would then expel the contents into the abdominal cavity. It can also form an abscess covering the area of appendix region.
It is difficult to diagnose inflamed appendix. Only an expert doctor can identify such inflammation by physically touching the abdomen giving it slight pressure. He would verify if the surrounding abdominal muscles gets rigid when pressure is applied. Pain is the only symptom of appendicitis and it varies from time to time. Abdominal pain is quite common for people with pelvic inflammatory disease or urinary tract infection. Hence in case of doubts your doctor may request for blood test, urine test, and CT scan. Computerized topography test is the right imaging test available to show the exact position of the appendix inside.
There is no medication or drug available to reduce the inflammation of the appendix. Surgery is the only choice to get relief from the sharp staggering pain. Appendectomy is the process of removing the inflamed appendix from the body. It can either be performed as traditional open surgery or by laparoscopic method. The surgeon will decide about the course of surgery depending on the health condition of the patient.
In open surgery, the surgeon would make one long incision about 5-10 cm in length and gently remove the inflamed appendix by cutting it off from the intestinal wall. In laparoscopic method, several small incisions would be made on the abdomen through which special instrument fitted with camera will be sent into the abdomen. The surgeon would monitor the condition of the abdomen in the monitor and remove the appendix suitably using sterilized scissors. Recovery is fast in this method and also it would not leave any scars. But laparoscopic surgery is not suited for all.
For some people the infection would be severe and the appendix would have ruptured its contents into the intestine. In such cases rapid surgery is to be done using open method for cleaning the abdomen. The patient would remain in the hospital for 2-3 days after surgery. In case an abscess is formed in the appendix region the surgeon would drain the contents by inserting a small tube through the skin. The patient can wait for days or weeks until the infection is cured to start with surgery.
Home Remedies :
There is no way you can control the pain of inflamed appendix. Tips are given only to get comfort from the pain and to avoid unwanted activities. A person suspected to have appendicitis should avoid doing workouts and restrain from lifting any heavy objects. Even after surgery, the person should follow the instructions of the doctor completely to avoid any complications. Don’t do any strenuous work for at least 2-3 weeks after surgery. Discuss with your doctor about when you can get back to work in case your job involves heavy physical work.
Do not exert pressure on the abdominal area. You can support the abdomen cavity by a soft pillow while you are laughing or coughing or making similar movements that disturbs your stomach. Complete the course of medication given by your doctor after appendectomy. You can always consult your doctor if you cannot manage pain with the given medications. After resting you can slowly start with the daily activities.