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What Causes Appendicitis, Symptoms of Appendicitis

Jul 4, 2008
Appendicitis results from inflammation of the appendix. (The appendix is an outpouching from the right side of the large intestine.) This often occurs because the appendix has become obstructed, or blocked. However, no one really knows why this blockage happens in the appendices of some children and not in others, so it probably cannot be prevented.

Appendicitis is one of the most common causes of emergency abdominal surgery in the United States. Appendicitis usually occurs when the appendix becomes blocked by feces, a foreign object, or rarely, a tumor.

What Causes Appendicitis?

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by stool, a foreign body, or cancer. Blockage may also occur from infection, since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body.

In most cases, a blockage inside the appendix probably starts a process in which the appendix becomes inflamed and infected. If inflammation continues without treatment, the appendix can rupture. A ruptured appendix spills bacteria-laden intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity, causing peritonitis, which may result in a life-threatening infection. A rupture also may cause an abscess (a pus-filled pocket of infection) to form. In a woman, the ovaries and fallopian tubes may become infected, and the resulting blockage of the fallopian tubes may cause infertility. A ruptured appendix also may allow bacteria to infect the bloodstream - a life-threatening condition called sepsis.

Symptoms

So, what exactly is appendicitis, and what are the symptoms a person can look for? Appendicitis is when the appendix becomes inflamed for no apparent reason. It can happen to anyone at any time, though it tends to strike more when an individual is between the ages of 10 and 30. As far as symptoms, the most signature one is pain in the abdomen. It should be noted that appendicitis pain is not like the type of pain you get from gas or indigestion. It is very excruciating and can debilitate a person. Laying on one's side with their knees towards their chest can ease the pain a little bit, but for the most part the only way appendicitis pain can be gotten rid of is through removal of the appendix.

You may also experience other appendicitis symptoms along with the pain. They are important to pay attention to, especially in children who may not be able to communicate the pain location properly. These appendicitis symptoms include abdominal swelling, diarrhea and constipation. There may be a loss of appetite accompanied by a low grade fever. Likewise, appendicitis sufferers may experience a lack of ability to pass gas to relieve any of the other appendicitis symptoms.
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