The appendix is an organ that doesn’t seem to be used anymore by humans. It is believed that back thousands years ago that the appendix was a much bigger organ than it is today. It may have served as a second stomach to digest the foods that were foraged during the lifetimes of early man. Now, the appendix is a small finger-shaped organ; this 3.5 to 4 inch appendage has no apparent function. Many members of the medical community believe that our appendix is what is left after many thousands or millions of years of evolution. The appendix is located right at the top of the colon, between the small intestine and the large intestine.
When the appendix becomes inflamed, it can turn into an inflammatory infection called appendicitis. If you have appendicitis, it is very serious. The appendix can perforate or tear from the stress on the organ from the infectious materials inside. If untreated, an attack of appendicitis could lead to peritonitis and death. Peritonitis is an inflammatory process in the lining (peritoneum) of the abdominal cavity.
A less serious form of appendicitis is an abscessed that forms around the appendix. The abscess is formed with scar tissue that separates the infectious materials from the rest of the body. There is less danger of the appendix rupturing and causing peritonitis to develop.
Causes of Appendicitis
Appendicitis is likely to occur if the appendix becomes blocked with a piece of food. A piece of corn could get lodged in the appendix to cause an infection and inflammation. The appendix can become inflamed with a general infection in people who have a lowered immune system. Whether the appendix gets blocked by food particles or it gets blocked from an inflammatory response to an infectious process in the body, the appendix can swell and become blocked. Once it becomes blocked, the appendix can begin growing bacteria.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
The pain associated with appendicitis may begin with dull pain in the area of the belly button. The pain may move and become sharper as it moves to the right quadrant of the abdomen where the appendix is located. There may also be pain located in the area of the bladder. There may be pain during urination present with appendicitis. The pain may also manifest in cramping, rather than sharp or dull pain.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting usually begins after the pain begins. The nausea and the pain in the middle or the right quadrant of the abdomen is a clue that it could be appendicitis. Sometimes nausea and vomiting will come before the onset of abdominal pain.
An individual with appendicitis may have a low grade fever which could increase to 101 to 102 degrees. A fever is a sign that your immune system is fighting some sort of infection in the body. The fever and the other symptoms mentioned above could be pointing to an inflamed and infected appendix.
With an inflammatory process taking place in the appendix, the abdomen may become swelled. The abdomen may feel firm or rigid to the touch. The inflammation from the appendix could also make it difficult to expel gas, which could cause the abdomen to feel hard.
Abdominal pain doesn’t always point toward appendicitis. Almost everyone has abdominal pain at one time or another; however, if the pain is accompanied by fever, nausea and any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to be seen by a medical professional right away. The symptoms of appendicitis may be different from one person to the next. There is no way to know for sure that you have appendicitis unless you get checked by a doctor.
Due to the varied symptoms of appendicitis, the doctor should rule out any other problems which may be causing the pain. For instance, kidney problems and an enlarged spleen may also cause some of the symptoms mentioned above. Sickle cell anemia may also give some of the same symptoms also, which makes it very necessary for the doctor to properly examine you and make a correct diagnosis, so that the condition can be dealt with in a proper manner.