The Symptoms and Treatment of Acute Appendicitis

Appendicitis is defined as “an inflammation of the inner lining of the vermiform appendix that spreads to its other parts”. It is a common medical condition of the abdomen. As per studies, nearly seven percent of the population will be affected by this medical condition in their lifetime, with the peak incidence occurring between the ages of 10 and 30 years.

Acute appendicitis is a rapidly progressing inflammation of a small portion of the large intestine called the appendix. The appendix is a pouch shaped structure which is located in the area where the small intestine joins the large intestine. Acute appendicitis is usually caused when a foreign substance gets trapped in the appendix, thereby causing infection. It is a serious medical condition which requires immediate surgery.

Symptoms of acute appendicitis

Severe pain in the right lower abdomen, which gets progressively sharp and intense, is the main symptom of acute appendicitis. Pain increases when pressure is put on the area. It increases further when the pressure is released. Bloating of the abdomen, constipation, chills, fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite are other symptoms of this medical condition.  

Acute appendicitis may cause serious complications if not treated appropriately at the right time. These life threatening complications include peritonitis, shock and ruptured appendix. If the affected person displays symptoms like dizziness, cold skin, clammy skin, change in consciousness, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe abdominal pain, low blood pressure and rapid pulse, it should be treated as a medical emergency. 

Treatment of acute appendicitis

This medical condition can be treated effectively. Diagnosis usually begins with medical history and physical examination. Doctors look for tenderness in the right lower part of the abdomen. They may also use tests like complete blood count, white blood cell count, abdominal x-ray and CT scan of the abdomen. 

Acute appendicitis should be treated before the appendix ruptures. Treatment of acute appendicitis requires hospitalization. Doctors usually use intravenous antibiotics (like Flagyl) to treat infections. Surgical procedure known as open appendectomy is performed in order to remove the appendix and to clean out the abdominal cavity. Doctors also use pain relief medicines like Demerol.

Laparoscopic appendicitis may be performed in some cases. It is a minimally invasive surgery, which is used to remove the appendix. Laparoscopic appendicitis requires small incisions. People recover very quickly after this surgical procedure. In most of the cases the patient is discharged from the hospital after two or three days.