Snow
Snow

Book a free consultation

What is appendicitis?

Your appendix is a finger-sized tube located where the large and small intestines connect. It has no known function, but if it gets inflamed or infected (appendicitis), you’ll need immediate treatment.

An inflamed appendix may cause pain off and on. Or it may burst open (rupture), causing sudden, severe pain. A ruptured appendix can spread bacteria through the abdominal cavity. These bacteria trigger a serious, sometimes-fatal infection called peritonitis.

 

Where is your appendix?

The appendix is in the lower right side of the abdomen (belly).

 

Who might get appendicitis?

Appendicitis can occur at any age, although it’s most common in people in their teens and 20s. Appendicitis in children most often occurs during the tween or teen years. But even elementary school-age children get appendicitis.

 

What causes appendicitis?

It’s not clear what brings on appendicitis. Something triggers an inflammation (irritation and swelling) or infection in your appendix. Causes could include:

  • Abdominal injury or trauma.
  • Blockage at the opening where the appendix connects to the intestines.
  • Digestive tract infection.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Growths inside the appendix.

 

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Severe abdominal pain in the lower right belly — where your appendix is — is a key sign of appendicitis. Symptoms often come on suddenly and get worse. They include:

  • Abdominal pain or tenderness that hurts more when you cough, sneeze, inhale or move.
  • Swollen belly.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Inability to pass gas.
  • Loss of appetite (not feeling hungry when you usually would).
  • Low-grade fever (below 100 degrees F).
  • Nausea and vomiting.

 

How is appendicitis diagnosed?

You’ll describe your symptoms and have a physical exam. Your doctor may order a blood test to check for infection. You also may have an imaging scan. Any of these tests can show signs of blockage, inflammation or organ rupture:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scans show cross-sections of the body. They use a combination of X-rays and computer technology.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and magnets to produce detailed images of abdominal organs.
  • An abdominal ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to show images of organs.

 

How can I prevent appendicitis?

There’s no proven way to prevent appendicitis. Eating a high-fiber diet with lots of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables may help, although experts can’t explain why.

What is appendicitis?

Your appendix is a finger-sized tube located where the large and small intestines connect. It has no known function, but if it gets inflamed or infected (appendicitis), you’ll need immediate treatment.

An inflamed appendix may cause pain off and on. Or it may burst open (rupture), causing sudden, severe pain. A ruptured appendix can spread bacteria through the abdominal cavity. These bacteria trigger a serious, sometimes-fatal infection called peritonitis.

 

Where is your appendix?

The appendix is in the lower right side of the abdomen (belly).

 

Who might get appendicitis?

Appendicitis can occur at any age, although it’s most common in people in their teens and 20s. Appendicitis in children most often occurs during the tween or teen years. But even elementary school-age children get appendicitis.

 

What causes appendicitis?

It’s not clear what brings on appendicitis. Something triggers an inflammation (irritation and swelling) or infection in your appendix. Causes could include:

  • Abdominal injury or trauma.
  • Blockage at the opening where the appendix connects to the intestines.
  • Digestive tract infection.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Growths inside the appendix.

 

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Severe abdominal pain in the lower right belly — where your appendix is — is a key sign of appendicitis. Symptoms often come on suddenly and get worse. They include:

  • Abdominal pain or tenderness that hurts more when you cough, sneeze, inhale or move.
  • Swollen belly.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Inability to pass gas.
  • Loss of appetite (not feeling hungry when you usually would).
  • Low-grade fever (below 100 degrees F).
  • Nausea and vomiting.

 

How is appendicitis diagnosed?

You’ll describe your symptoms and have a physical exam. Your doctor may order a blood test to check for infection. You also may have an imaging scan. Any of these tests can show signs of blockage, inflammation or organ rupture:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scans show cross-sections of the body. They use a combination of X-rays and computer technology.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and magnets to produce detailed images of abdominal organs.
  • An abdominal ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to show images of organs.

 

How can I prevent appendicitis?

There’s no proven way to prevent appendicitis. Eating a high-fiber diet with lots of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables may help, although experts can’t explain why.

Book a free consultation