Appendicitis is the acute inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small, vermiform (worm-like) organ that is attached to the cecum (first part of the large intestine or colon). Although its specific location in the abdomen may vary, it is generally retrocolic (behind the colon). The normal size of the appendix is anything between 2 to 20 cm and has a volume of 5-7mL. Anything larger than this is considered appendicitis.
The exact function of the appendix but it is proposed to be a structure that has most, if not all, of its original function through evolution. However, the proposed function of the appendix is that the good bacteria of the colon are kept in the appendix. During times of infections, it can recolonize the large intestine, making it easier for the colon to recover. However, many people have continued to live without their appendix without any ill effects on the health of the body.
The exact cause of appendicitis is still unknown. There is a blockage that occurs in the blood vessels of the appendix, but the mechanism of action or invasion of the bacteria is still undetermined.
Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency. Learn more about how to handle appendicitis and other medical emergencies by enrolling First Aid Courses and CPR Training.
Stages of Appendicitis
Appendicitis has three stages:
- Congestion of blood vessels supplying the appendix
- Presence of pus in the appendix
- Rupture of the appendix
- Becomes necrotic
Symptoms of Appendicitis
In first stage of appendicitis, the pain is only vague around the belly button. However, as the inflammation grows in size, the pain becomes more intense and sharp and is found in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. The following are the other symptoms of appendicitis:
- Pain that begins 12 to 24 hours after swelling begins
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tenderness of the abdomen
- Severe appendicitis:
- Fever and chills
- Constipation or diarrhea
Complications of Appendicitis
Appendicitis is a fairly common medical emergency, thus it is important to recognize its symptoms before complications can develop. Complications include:
- Ruptured appendix
- Presence of abscess around the appendix
- Peritonitis – abdominal cavity lining infection
First Aid Management for Appendicitis
An appendectomy (removal of the appendix) is the only way to treat appendicitis. One must be careful to correctly identify if a person is suffering from appendicitis because an appendectomy is an invasive surgery that involves opening the abdominal area:
- Try to identify the cause of pain. Be very specific with the location of the pain and monitor the duration.
- Check if the pain is relieved upon resting and lying down. Try to give a painkiller.
- Do not give drinks with caffeine or fairy products to not irritate the digestive tract.
- If the symptoms above were observed, seek medical help immediately.
Appendicitis is the acute inflammation of the appendix. Appendicitis is a medical emergency and needs immediate medical treatment.