Appendicitis is caused when the appendix swells usually due to something blocking it. It is a common problem that affects around 7% of people during their life. It is much more common in men and usually occurs in children and teenagers. The main treatment option involves removing the appendix – no-one really knows why we have an appendix and removing it does not cause any long lasting harm.
Causes of Appendicitis
No-one really knows what causes appendicitis although some cases are believed to be caused by a small piece or small pieces of faeces becoming stuck in the appendix. Cancer can also be linked to the appendicitis causes if a tumour blocks the appendix. Other people believe that a stomach infection could be another appendicitis cause especially if it travels, however no-one really knows for sure.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
The first appendicitis signs usually start with a pain in the abdomen that comes and goes. Within a few hours of feeling the initial pain, patients usually feel pain on the lower right hand of the stomach that is much more severe than the initial pain in the abdomen. Pressing on this area or walking can make the pain worse if appendicitis is the root cause of the pain. Other appendicitis symptoms include:
• Vomiting or feeling sick
• Constipation or diarrhoea
• Loss of appetite
If any of the above symptoms of appendicitis are experienced, especially a severe pain in the stomach, it is highly important to phone for emergency help. If the appendix bursts it can lead to much more serious problems such as blood poisoning or serious infections.
Treatment of Appendicitis
The usual appendicitis treatment is the removal of the appendix via surgery. This is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the world and the success rate is excellent. There are two main types of surgery for the treatment of appendicitis.
Keyhole surgery is the main appendicitis treatment as the recovery period is much quicker when compared to open surgery. Patients that have this form of surgery will have three small cuts made in their abdomen, through which the appendix will be removed. The recovery time is short, and most patients are able to leave hospital within a few days of surgery.
The second form of appendicitis treatment is open surgery. This is usually only performed on pregnant women, people who have had stomach operations before, people who have tumors in their digestive system and in cases which the appendix has burst. This form of surgery involves making one large cut to remove the appendix and hence the recovery period and hospital stay will be longer.