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What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis or appendicitis is a relatively common inflammation of the so-called appendix - a part of the human intestine that has become obsolete through evolution.

In addition, there is an incorrect naming of this disease in German. Because, as already mentioned, it is the appendix of the appendix that is inflamed and not the appendix itself. If, on the other hand, the appendix is ​​inflamed, one speaks of typhlitis.

Nonetheless, the term appendicitis has become so common that there is a general understanding of the condition at hand, although it is incorrectly named.

Table of Contents

Appendix (appendix)

The appendix is ​​a finger-shaped appendix on the cecum that does not seem to have any special function. It sits in the lower right part of the lower abdomen. In rarer cases he also sits on the left side. If this is the case, inflammation is often misdiagnosed at first. Usually the pain caused by inflammation of the appendix begins near the navel and “wanders” from there towards the appendix.

In the beginning, the pain level is often low and for many sufferers nothing to worry about. Over time, however, the pain becomes more and more intense until it is almost unbearable. Those affected are usually between ten and thirty years of age. Before and after that, severe inflammation of the appendix is ​​very rare. The treatment of appendicitis is quite routine due to its frequent occurrence and usually consists of surgically removing the appendix.

Causes & triggers

What are the causes of appendicitis?

A large number of lymph follicles can be found in the appendix itself, which makes it a "narrow" part of the intestine. This is why it sometimes happens that, for example, the pits of cherries, melons, grapes, apples, etc. get stuck in them and cause them to become foreign bodies, triggering inflammation.

Another reason can be worm infestation. Mostly roundworms. The chance of getting infected with worms is nowadays rather low, at least in Europe. Worms often spread and multiply in improperly stored food, especially meat.

If these foods are then consumed, worms can develop. However, the consumption of meat before infected animals are slaughtered or a generally unclean living environment can also lead to infection. Not every type of worm causes appendicitis.

The most common reason for appendicitis, however, are so-called "fecal stones". These are stone-like structures, the center of which consists of heavily thickened feces, which in turn are surrounded by semi-thickened feces or other slimy substances.

These are deposited in the appendix, where they achieve an effect similar to that of the fruit kernels already mentioned. The formation of feces can have many reasons and besides appendicitis also cause various other ailments, e.g. intestinal entanglements or perforations.

Symptoms & Signs

What symptoms and signs indicate appendicitis?

Appendicitis usually begins with pain in the lower abdomen, primarily in the umbilical region. Since the navel is generally not associated with the appendix, those affected often do not think much of it at first and dismiss their suffering as a simple stomach ache. This can have serious consequences.

Other appendicitis symptoms include:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the lower right part of the abdomen
  • Wandering pain from the navel to the seat of the appendix
  • Pain increases when the person coughs, walks, or moves the lower abdomen too much
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild Elevated temperature (may increase significantly as the disease progresses)
  • Constipation or diarrhea (sometimes alternating)
  • Swelling of the abdomen
WomenThose who develop appendicitis during pregnancy often mistakenly misinterpret the symptoms as being pregnancy-induced. This is reinforced by the fact that while the woman is expecting a child, the appendix changes its position and moves towards the upper abdomen. This can make a diagnosis more complicated for doctors, which is often dangerous for the life and limb of the mother and the unborn child.

Other symptoms for those affected can be various other, sometimes severe, inflammations in the abdomen. These include, for example, inflammation of the ureters, various other intestinal areas and / or the ovaries.
It is therefore only advisable to consult a doctor as soon as possible, even with the slightest suspicion of possible appendicitis, in order to be able to prevent worse quickly and permanently.

Diagnosis & course

How is appendicitis diagnosed and what is its course?

The diagnostic tools for diagnosing appendicitis are relatively quick and safe thanks to centuries of testing and development.

Less than a century ago, appendicitis was usually diagnosed by examining the intestines with the doctor's fingers. This was uncomfortable, but effective enough to allow more or less definite diagnoses to be made. - Even today this technique is still used from time to time, but has largely been replaced by less unpleasant and safer procedures.

Diagnostic methods

The most common diagnostic tools used to diagnose appendicitis today are:

  1. General examination of the body:
    For this purpose, the doctor, usually the family doctor, uses his classic tools and thoroughly examines the potential patient, often applying light pressure on the appendix and then suddenly releasing it. However, if the pain intensifies instead of improving after releasing the pressure, it can almost certainly be assumed to be infected. The appendix has the property, if it is inflamed, more painful after it has been stimulated than during it. But the already mentioned examining of the rectum with the doctor's fingers is still common. In pregnant women, an intensive examination of the pelvis is often also required to rule out other causes of the pain.
  2. Blood tests:
    After blood is drawn from the patient, the doctor will identify the result. If he detects an increased concentration of white blood cells, this can be regarded as an indicator of a possible infection.
  3. Urine samples:
    The urine sample is also an effective means of detecting any appendicitis. This test can also be used to rule out the possibility that the pain is caused by a kidney stone, for example.
  4. Imaging test:
    Sometimes x-rays or ultrasound tests of the lower abdomen are also carried out in order to get an overview, to be able to determine a possible inflammation and also to be able to rule out other causes of the pain.

These diagnostic techniques are usually quick and reliable, and it is very rare now for an appendix, or rather appendicitis, to be misdiagnosed. Only in those affected who have the appendix on the other side does the doctor sometimes misinterpret it.

Course of disease

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As described above, a typical course is usually initiated with pain in the area of ​​the navel, which then continues in the direction of the appendix and becomes noticeably stronger. The pain can sometimes make it impossible for the patient to move.

If this is the case, action must be taken as soon as possible. If you leave an appendix untreated for too long, it is possible that it ruptures or ruptures. Once this has happened, wound fluid, inflammation causes and faeces can freely distribute in the abdomen. In many cases this leads to the death of the patient. Today, however, death rates for appendix patients in Europe are close to zero percent.

Treatment & Therapy

What does a treatment for the inflamed appendix look like?

In almost all cases of appendicitis, the same is surgically removed. Drug treatments for this condition are rare and not promising, and appendicitis is unlikely to subside naturally.

During the operation Usually a small incision is made in the abdomen and the appendix is ​​removed and the intestine is obliterated or sutured. The remaining scar is insignificant and mostly barely visible. All in all, this operation is routine for many surgeons.

Prevention & Prevention

How can I prevent appendicitis?

Unfortunately, there is no general prophylaxis for appendicitis because it can have too many triggers. One should maintain a generally healthy lifestyle and consult a doctor if there is little suspicion. - Often you can’t do more as a preventive measure and fortunately more is often not necessary.

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