Appendix is a small tube like structure hanging from the cecum. Cecum is the first part of large intestine. Appendix resembles like a small fat worm, therefore in medical text it is called vermiform appendix. Commonly it is as long as the index finger, though in some cases it can be even 10 inch long. The definite purpose of appendix is not clear and therefore it is assumed to be a rudimentary organ.
It is located in the right side of lower abdomen. Inflammation occurs when opening between the cecum and appendix is blocked, either by infection or due to tiny portion of hardened stool.
With the blockage, the secretion that normally empty in the cecum gets accumulated and the whole appendix begins to swell. It at this point, the symptoms first occur. Appendicitis is a serious and life threatening at times, especially in its acute form.
Symptoms Of Appendicitis
- Acute severe pain in lower right side of the abdomen or around the umbilicus is the first symptom that a patient with acute appendicitis experiences. In few cases the pain is so severe that patient has to bend forward to get relief.
- With pain there is frequent nausea and vomiting. The abdomen becomes tight and rigid. It is tender to touch. Pain may become worse with cough and sneezing.
- There is rise in body temperature. The fever may be more than 102 degree Fahrenheit.
- In chronic appendicitis, there may be recurrent pain in right lower abdomen which may be accompanied with nausea, constipation and loss of appetite.
What Are The Common Causes Of Appendicitis?
Inflammation of appendix results due to two causes, either due to obstruction of fecal material inside the hollow appendix or due to infection in the gastrointestinal tract. In either case the discharge that is collected in the appendix which usually gets emptied in the cecum is obstructed. As a result there is rapid multiplication of bacteria inside the appendix. The appendix becomes swollen and pus fills in.
One of the reasons for appendicitis is constipation. People who have chronic constipation are at a greater risk of suffering from appendicitis. In few cases intestinal worms, especially roundworm may get lodged inside the appendix and cause obstruction. Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohns disease can cause inflammation of appendix. People in younger age are more prone to appendicitis than elderly individuals.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Appendicitis?
When the symptoms point to appendicitis medical help should be sought without delay. The physician performs an examination for acute appendicitis. From above he will examine the abdomen for clinical diagnosis of appendicitis. There is rebound tenderness when he presses the abdomen especially on the right lower abdomen and around the umbilicus.
Internally he will insert a gloved finger into the rectum. When he presses internally, at the point of inflammation, it is tender. He also recommends doing sonogram and blood test. Once the symptoms and the test confirm the probability of appendicitis, surgery is indicated. Then appendix is surgically removed.
Home Remedies For Appendicitis Pain Relief
There are certain home measures that a patient can follow when medical help is not available or if out of reach of a hospital.
- Patient should take complete bed rest.
- He should avoid taking any solid food. But at the same time he can take water, lemon juice added with a pinch of salt and sugar to maintain hydration. Sip small amount of water throughout the day.
- Small amount of broth mixed with salt is also helpful.
- Cold compress over the right side of abdomen is beneficial in diminishing the spread of inflammation.
- Antibiotics are useful for controlling infection.
- When acute symptoms subside the patient should be given fruit juices followed by a 3 meal all-fruit diet for 4 to 5 days later followed by a well-balanced diet.
None of this of course is a substitute for surgery. But in absence of urgent medical aid, these measures can almost keep the matter under control till expert medical and surgical help is available.
A person suffering from chronic appendicitis should try to prevent recurrent attacks. He should prevent constipation by eating more vegetables, fruits and other fiber products. He should maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking.