Appendicitis occurs when the appendix, a small tube of tissue extending from the large intestine, becomes inflamed. When left untreated, an inflamed appendix has the potential to perforate or burst, spilling infection into your abdominal cavity, which can cause a fatal condition known as peritonitis, which is inflammation of the lining of your abdominal cavity. Symptoms can vary greatly, and can often be confused with other serious conditions (like diverticulitis). For this reason, appendicitis should always be treated as a medical emergency and you should seek treatment immediately if you have the symptoms of this condition.
Symptoms and Signs of Appendicitis
Some of the symptoms and signs of appendicitis generally experienced by patients include the following:
- Sudden onset of pain that starts around the navel, often moving to the lower right area of the abdomen
- Sudden pain beginning on the lower right side of the abdomen
- Lack of appetite
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain that becomes worse when walking, coughing or engaging in other movements
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Low-grade fever that grows worse
- Severe cramps
- Pain when urinating
It’s important to note that the site of abdominal pain may vary depending on the position of the appendix and your age. Women who are pregnant may experience upper abdominal pain, since the appendix is moved higher during pregnancy.
Potential Complications of Appendicitis
Unfortunately, appendicitis can come with serious complications, which is why it’s so essential to seek emergency treatment. Complications may include:
- Rupture of the Appendix – If the appendix ruptures, infection is spread throughout the abdomen. This complication has the potential to be life-threatening and immediate surgery is required to take out the appendix and clean out the abdomen.
- Pocket of Infection in the Abdomen – When an appendix bursts, a pocket of infection known as an abscess may develop. If this occurs, a tube may be placed in the abdominal wall to help drain the abscess.
Tests and Diagnosis for Appendicitis
A physical exam to assess abdominal pain and a history of your symptoms will likely be taken to help diagnosis the problem. An abdominal exam will specifically be done to detect any inflammation. A urine test may be done to rule out a kidney stone or urinary tract infection and a blood test may be performed to look for a high white blood cell count, which is indicative of infection. Imaging tests, such as a CT scan, abdominal ultrasound, or abdominal x-ray may be done to look for other causes of pain or to confirm a diagnosis of appendicitis. If you are diagnosed with appendicitis, the standard treatment is surgery to remove your appendix.
Seeking Emergency Medical Treatment for Appendicitis
If you have any of the symptoms of appendicitis, it’s important to seek emergency medical attention at Pinnacle ER immediately. Avoid drinking, eating, using antacids, heating pads, laxatives, or pain remedies if you think you have appendicitis since these things have the ability to cause the rupture of an inflamed appendix. Timely diagnosis and treatment of appendicitis are essential, and Pinnacle ER offers the diagnostic tools and facilities needed to treat you quickly and effectively.