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What is appendicitis?

A blockage, or obstruction, in the appendix can lead to appendicitis, which is an inflammation and infection of your appendix. The blockage may result from a buildup of mucus, parasites, or most commonly, fecal matter. When there’s an obstruction in the appendix, bacteria can multiply quickly inside the organ. This causes the appendix to become irritated and swollen, ultimately leading to appendicitis.

The appendix is in the lower right side of your abdomen. It’s a narrow, tube-shaped pouch protruding from your large intestine.

Although the appendix is a part of your gastrointestinal tract, it’s a vestigial organ. This means that it provides no vital function and that you may live a normal, healthy life without it. The purpose of the appendix is unknown. Some believe it contains tissue that helps your immune system process infections in your body.

If you don’t get treatment for an inflamed appendix quickly, it can rupture and release dangerous bacteria into your abdomen. The resulting infection is called peritonitis. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Having a ruptured appendix is a life-threatening situation. Rupture rarely happens within the first 24 hours of symptoms, but the risk of rupture rises dramatically after 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. It’s very important to recognize the early symptoms of appendicitis so that you can seek medical treatment immediately.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Appendicitis causes a variety of symptoms, including:

  • abdominal pain
  • low fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty passing gas

How is appendicitis diagnosed?

Diagnosing appendicitis can be tricky. The symptoms are often vague or extremely similar to other ailments, including gall bladder problems, bladder orurinary tract infections, Crohn's disease, gastritis, intestinal infection and ovary problems.

The following tests are usually used to make the diagnosis:

·         An abdominal examination to detect inflammation.

·         A urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection.

·         A rectal examination.

·         A blood test to see if your body is fighting infection.

·         CT (computerised tomography) scans and ultrasound.