Appendicitis is a condition that commonly affects people from all kinds of backgrounds, in patients aged 10-30 or older. But what does appendicitis really feel like? When is stomach pain just stomach pain, and when is it a sign of appendicitis? We’ll take a closer look at the symptoms of appendicitis so you’ll know the difference.
What are the Signs of Appendicitis?
What signs of appendicitis should you be on the lookout for?
The first sign is a sudden pain beginning on the right side of the lower abdomen. That pain may also begin around the navel and shift to the lower-right abdomen area. The pain can worsen after coughing, walking, or making other jarring movements. Nausea and vomiting can follow, along with loss of appetite, and a low-grade fever that may worsen. Appendicitis can also cause constipation or diarrhea, abdominal bloating, or unusual flatulence.
The exact area of the pain can vary, depending on age and the appendix’s position. Pregnant women may feel as though pain is coming from the upper abdomen. This is because the appendix shifts to a higher position during pregnancy. The pain can also be confused with a stomachache or several other unrelated conditions.
What Causes Appendicitis?
What causes appendicitis? Appendicitis is typically caused by a blockage in the lining of the appendix. The appendix is a small extension of tissue at the junction of the small and large intestines. While its initial function was initially unclear, its believed now to be a depository of beneficial digestive bacteria. It can be removed entirely after becoming infected.
This blockage results in an infection, rapidly multiplying bacteria causing the appendix to inflame, swell, and fill with pus. If not treated promptly, the appendix can rupture, releasing the bacteria en masse. If left untreated, appendicitis can be very dangerous, even fatal. If you suspect symptoms of appendicitis, you should visit the emergency room as soon as possible.
Appendicitis Treatment: What to Expect
Now that you’ve gone to the doctor and received your diagnosis, what comes next? Your appendicitis treatment begins with your doctor’s appendicitis diagnosis. They’ll examine your abdomen and ask questions about pain or other symptoms you might be experiencing. This exam will likely include applying pressure to the painful area. If it feels worse after pressure is released, that’s a sign of inflammation.
After a physical exam, your doctor may ask for blood or urine tests or an imaging test. A urine test can rule out kidney stones or a urinary tract infection as the cause of pain. Likewise, a high white blood cell count is a good sign your body’s fighting an infection. Imaging tests like abdominal x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans will confirm the appendicitis diagnosis more directly (or another cause).
Appendicitis treatment almost always involves surgery to remove the inflamed appendix. Before appendicitis surgery, you will be given a dose of antibiotics to treat the infection. The surgery is either done using a singular abdominal incision (a laparotomy) or performed laparoscopically (using a few targeted precise incisions). In either case, one or two days of recovery will be required after an appendectomy.
Get Your Appendicitis Treated by a BASS Medical Professional
Sometimes a stomachache is just a stomachache, but sometimes it’s a sign of a more severe issue. Put succinctly: appendicitis feels bad, and a ruptured appendix feels even worse.
Thankfully, with surgery and additional treatment options, appendicitis is very survivable. If you’re dealing with a mysterious pelvic pain or other abdominal pain, don’t just wait for it to go away. Schedule a consultation today to find out more information. BASS Medical Group’s board-certified specialists can recommend options or answer any questions you might have.