Appendicitis is an extremely common medical problem. It can affect people of all ages and races, with very few warnings that it is going to occur. In fact, doctors can’t find a way to prevent appendicitis to blow. They just know that a foreign body or stool blocks the appendix, which leads to build-up of waste material and bacteria. Sometimes conditions like cancer can also lead to appendicitis.
What you need to do is look out for signs that it is in trouble. While the appendectomy is one of the most routine procedures and now carried out through keyhole surgery through the belly button, it can cause life-threatening problems if overlooked. The good news is that there are common signs that doctors will spot early on to know if there is an issue.
One out of 15 people in the United States will suffer from appendicitis. That is how common it is. Common is good since doctors will look out for signs early and treat it as quickly as possible. It usually affects those between the ages of 10 and 30 and isn’t common in people who are under the age of two.
Here are seven that you should look out for at home to know if you need urgent medical attention. If you have children with some of these symptoms, you will have to help them understand what you want to tell them. Children find it hard to describe the feelings and discomforts that they get and may not even realize what the exact issue is.
Abdominal Pain Starting Off Dull
Abdominal pain is associated with appendicitis. Most people will be aware of the pain to the right-hand side of the body, but what you may not realize is that the pain won’t necessarily start here. The pain can appear to the left or even in the middle.
Many patients describe the pain to be like indigestion. It’s a dull and cramp-like feeling, instead of the intense burning sensation that is experienced in later stages of the disease.
The pain comes from the inflammation within the appendix. It starts to irritate the abdominal wall. As the inflammation gets worse, the pain will start to become sharp and more localized to the right-hand side. The pain will gradually get worse from the dull ache to the severe and constant pain.
Patients have often placed pressure on the area to help relieve the pain. However, when they remove their hands, the pain becomes more intense.
Sometimes the pain may also be felt in the lower back or around the pelvis.
If you are pregnant, the pain could be higher than the abdomen. This is because the uterus will push the organs out of the way to create room, meaning that the appendix is pushed up into the chest cavity. Gas and heartburn are also more common due to the changing placement of the various organs.
Nausea and Vomiting, Along with Other Stomach Upsets
Digestive problems are extremely common in appendicitis patients. One of the top symptoms that alert doctors and nurses are vomiting, along with the pain in the abdomen.
However, vomiting isn’t necessarily going to happen. Some patients feel like they will be sick, but they don’t have the full symptoms. The feelings of nausea put them off food and can leave them feeling drained of energy.
There are other digestive upsets that occur. Diarrhea is highly likely, although some patients experience the opposite and become constipated.
Trouble passing gas could be an issue, which usually alerts to an obstruction somewhere within the bowels. This can be a side effect of the inflamed appendix.
As children can’t always share their physical symptoms with you, you’ll need to look out for signs that there are digestive upsets. Some parents note that the abdomen is swollen, due to the trapped stool or gas. It can look like normal bloating but is usually accompanied with the growing pains. Another sign is a tender abdomen when touching, as the pressure will lead to some irritation on the abdomen wall.
Low-Grade Fever, Sometimes with Chills
A fever is normal, as this is an infection. The appendix becomes inflamed and causes the immune system to attack the problem. The body temperature rises, especially as the infection takes hold. If the appendicitis can continue, the fever will gradually become worse.
Most patients will have a fever of around 99-102F. This is around the high 30s Celsius. With children, this is something that you can keep an eye on. While paracetamol can be used, it won’t help to bring the temperature down for long. The infection continues to spread. The medication won’t help for the pain either over a long period.
Chills are common while suffering from the fever.
Most fevers will not go over 101F. If they do, this is a sign that the appendix has already burst. Medical treatment is urgent in this case, as it means the infection can spread to the rest of the body.
Painful to Urinate or Difficulty Urinating
It’s not just the rectum that suffers from appendicitis. Your bladder can also be affected, and you may find that it is painful to urinate. Some patients find it difficult to urinate at all.
There are various reasons for this to happen. The first is due to the infection and inflammation. It is possible that there is a blockage somewhere that makes it hard for the kidneys to pass the waste to the bladder and leave the body. If this continues to build up, the bladder or other parts of the body can burst, cause other medical issues.
Pain or a burning sensation may be due to the infection spreading. It can also be due to the urine getting around the blocking and causing irritation as it tries to get around.
In children, appendicitis can be overlooked due to this symptom. Some parents believe that the symptoms are for a urinary tract infection.
Complete Loss of Appetite
With the pain and digestive upsets, it’s understandable that the last thing people think of doing is eating. Nausea often means that they can’t face anything in fear of vomiting. If they’ve already been vomiting—which is common before the pain starts—then patients are worried that they won’t be able to keep the food down anyway.
It’s not just food that patients with appendicitis are put off from. They don’t want to drink anything either, only taking sips of water because they know their bodies need it.
This is a symptom that is often overlooked in children and pregnant women. For children, they may be picky eaters or not always share when they are hungry. Parents are so focused on other symptoms that they don’t even think about this part, understanding that nobody wants to eat when they feel sick.
As for pregnant women, loss of appetite is common, as the uterus shifts the organs. The stomach can’t intake as much food anyway and will take longer to digest the food. Some women suffer badly from morning sickness and suffer from loss of appetite because of that, meaning the symptoms is easily ignored.
Fatigue and a General Feeling of Being Unwell
Appendicitis can affect your whole body. You end up avoiding everything going on around you, as you try to deal with the painful feelings in your abdomen.
Many patients look back on their time of suffering and remember just a general feeling of being unwell. They are tired and run down. However, they won’t have ageneral cold or flu symptoms in most of, much of cases.
The fatigue and tiredness often come from alack of sleep and lack of food. Patients don’t want to eat that much, and they certainly won’t be interested in nutritious food. When they do eat, they can vomit it all back up, meaning that their bodies aren’t getting anything nutritious anyway. Some patients find it almost impossible to keep water down, making them dehydrated.
Lack of sleep occurs due to the pain. Patients can’t stop the feeling in their stomachs, forcing themselves into a fitful sleep.
Pain in the Rectum Due to Appendix Placement
There are some people who have the appendix further down in the body. It sits behind the rectum, causing the pain to be localized elsewhere. While some of the pain can start like indigestion, as it grows it gets worse around the rectum.
This can sometimes be overlooked due to other digestive symptoms, like constipation or trapped wind. After all, pain can occur from these in similar areas.
The pain can also travel up to the lower back, as the appendix continues to inflame and remains untreated. It is possible for this pain to be overlooked by doctors unless they decide to do a rectal exam.
Getting Treatment, Even When Unsure, Is Essential
For most of, many of patients, it can take just two days for the appendix to rupture. This will bring other serious medical conditions and needs to be treated within hours. There are some patients who can live with an inflaming appendix for a week or more. They get the minor symptoms and ignore them at first. This is especially the case if indigestion like pains starts off as the main symptom.
A ruptured appendix is most severe for infants, toddlers, and those with suppressed immune systems. It is also most severe for pregnant women, as the appendix will rupture around the growing baby.
Parents are urged to take their children to the doctors at the first sign of the symptoms if they have any fear of appendicitis. You will know your children best, but don’t just assume a stomach bug or urinary tract infection. As you can see, the symptoms are very much like those of lesser serious conditions.
Treatment is always surgery. An appendix isn’t needed by the body, so it is best to remove it and avoid complications that can occur. So far, nobody has had a problem from having their appendix removed, and it is so routine that no major surgery is required anymore.
In fact, the appendix is just a 3.5-inch tube of tissue. It’s unclear what the actual function is now, but it was likely needed by our forefathers who had very different diets and ways of life. It’s amazing that such a small part of the body can cause so many serious complications.
If the appendix is left untreated, it will burst. The infection spreads around the abdominal area, leading to a more serious infectious condition called peritonitis. This means that the lining of the walls around the abdomen become inflamed and will need treating. The best way is through strong antibiotics, but they are not always effective. It will depend on how long it took for the infection to be treated and the immune system of the patient. In many cases, this is fatal.
A racing heart and extremely high temperature will alert you to the appendix bursting.
The Forming of an Abscess
In some cases, a form on the outside of the appendix and is filled with pus. This isn’t technically a symptom of appendicitis and isn’t something you will initially see. Doctors need ultrasounds to check the health of the organs and spot if there are any abscesses forming.
If there is an abscess, scar tissue will usually surround the whole organ to protect it from the rest of the body. It’s a defense mechanism that helps to prevent the abscess from bursting and spreading the infection to the rest of the body. Like if the appendix ruptured, the pus would cause an infection within the abdominal wall.
In cases where the abscess is spotted, your surgery will be treated as an emergency one. Doctors want to remove it before there is a problem, as just movement can lead to the abscess bursting.
While appendicitis is a common condition, it is a serious one. Doctors will send you straight to the hospital, where you can receive more tests and have surgery to make sure it is dealt with before it can get serious.
Check out more info on signs of an appendix problem here: