Ask the doctor: appendicitis

by Symptom Advice on October 30, 2011

our doctor explains the symptoms and treatment of appendicitis. Picture: Supplied. Source: Supplied

DR Cindy Pan explains the symptoms and treatment of this common but painful condition.

Question: How do you know if you have appendicitis? what is it and how is it treated?

Answer: Appendicitis, which means inflammation of the appendix, is the most common cause of acute abdominal pain.Typical symptoms include abdominal pain (commonly starting around the middle of the abdomen before moving to the right lower abdomen), poor appetite, nausea or vomiting and fever. It may be tender and sore when the doctor presses over the abdomen in the right lower region and there may be rebound pain when the doctor lets go after pressing deeply in this area. In some cases your abdomen may be quite rigid; the doctor will be unable to press deeply because your abdominal muscles are so tense. This can indicate that the appendix has burst and peritonitis (inflammation of the inner lining of the abdomen) has developed.the doctor may do blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of appendicitis. other tests which may be employed include CT scans and ultrasound.there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as ectopic pregnancy, severe menstrual cramps, pelvic inflammatory disease in women, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infection, diverticulitis, pancreatitis and other conditions. by listening to your symptoms, examining you physically and ordering appropriate tests, your doctor can assess the likelihood of appendicitis and, if necessary, send you to hospital for further assessment. If needed, immediate surgery may be performed to remove the appendix.  the surgery can be performed via a laparoscope (using tiny instruments attached to a narrow flexible microscope, also known as keyhole surgery) or through an incision in the abdominal wall. Your doctor will talk to you about which approach is best for you. after the surgery your recovery time can vary from days to weeks, depending on whether the appendix ruptured and whether there were any other complications. while appendicitis is extremely common, it is not a condition to be taken lightly, since if left untreated, the appendix may rupture, leading to abscess formation, peritonitis and even death.

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