Appendicitis happens when your appendix becomes inflamed. It can be acute or chronic. In the United States, appendicitis is the most common cause of abdominal pain resulting in surgery. Over 5 percent of Americans experience it at some point in their lives.
If left untreated, appendicitis can cause your appendix to burst. This can cause bacteria to spill into your abdominal cavity, which can be serious and sometimes fatal.
If you have appendicitis, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms: pain in your upper abdomen or around your bellybutton; pain in the lower right side of your abdomen; loss of appetite; indigestion; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; constipation; abdominal swelling; inability to pass gas; and or low-grade fever.
In many cases, the exact cause of appendicitis is unknown. Experts believe it develops when part of the appendix becomes obstructed, or blocked.
Many things can potentially block your appendix, including a buildup of hardened stool; enlarged lymphoid follicles; intestinal worms; traumatic injury; and tumors.
When your appendix becomes blocked, bacteria can multiply inside it and this can lead to the formation of pus and swelling, which can cause painful pressure in your abdomen.
Acute appendicitis is a severe and sudden case of appendicitis. The symptoms tend to develop quickly over the course of one to two days.
It requires immediate medical treatment. If left untreated, it can cause your appendix to rupture which may lead to serious and even fatal complications.
Acute appendicitis is more common than chronic appendicitis.
Chronic appendicitis is less common than acute appendicitis. In chronic cases of appendicitis, the symptoms may be relatively mild. They may disappear before reappearing again over a period of weeks, months, or even years.
This type of appendicitis can be challenging to diagnose. Sometimes, it’s not diagnosed until it develops into acute appendicitis.
Chronic appendicitis can be dangerous, therefore it is important to get the information you need to recognize and treat this condition promptly.
Appendicitis In Kids
An estimated 70,000 children experience appendicitis every year in the United States. Although it’s most common in people between the ages of 15 and 30 years old, it can develop at any age.
In children and teenagers, appendicitis often causes a stomachache near the navel. This pain may eventually become more severe and move to the lower right side of your child’s abdomen.
Your child may also lose their appetite, develop a fever and feel nauseous. It is best to contact an expert if such symptoms are noticed.
There’s no sure way to prevent appendicitis. But you might be able to lower your risk of developing it by eating a fiber-rich diet. Although more research is needed on the potential role of diet, appendicitis is less common in countries where people eat high-fiber diets.
Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, lentils, split peas, beans, and other legumes; oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat, and other whole grains.
Risk Factors for Appendicitis
Appendicitis can affect anyone. But some people may be more likely to develop this condition than others. For example, risk factors for appendicitis include:
Age: Appendicitis most often affects people between the ages of 15 and 30 years old.
Sex: Appendicitis is more common in males than in females.
Family history: People who have a family history of appendicitis are at heightened risk of developing it.
Diet: Although more research is needed, low-fiber diets might also raise the risk of appendicitis.