Could Your Abdominal Pain Be Appendicitis?
About 5 percent of Americans will experience abdominal pain caused by appendicitis sometime in their lives.
Could you be one of them?
Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of appendicitis. Knowing how to recognize the signs could save your life or that of a loved one.
What is Appendicitis?
As the name suggests, appendicitis is the painful swelling of the appendix, which is a small thin pouch about 2-4 inches long.
The appendix is attached to the large intestine. While nobody knows what its function is, we do know that removing it is not harmful.
How common is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is the most common abdominal pain-related emergency that requires surgery. As we mentioned before, about 5 percent of Americans will develop it.
What Causes Appendicitis?
The appendix can swell for several reasons, including:
- It becomes blocked, either by hardened stool, a foreign body, or cancer
- As a response to any infection in the body
- Intestinal worms
- Traumatic injury
Who is at Risk?
Teens and young adults are the ones most likely to develop appendicitis. However, the condition may occur at any age.
What are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?
Typical signs and symptoms of appendicitis include:
- Sudden abdominal pain that can begin at: the lower right abdomen or around the navel and later shifts to the lower right abdomen
- Abdominal pain that gets worse when you cough or walk
- Abdominal swelling
- Nausea and vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins
- Loss of appetite
- Fever of 99°F – 102°F
- Inability to pass gas
- Constipation or diarrhea
About 50 percent of patients will also experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Sudden pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back, or rectum
- Difficulty urinating or painful urination
- Severe cramps
- Vomiting that starts before the abdominal pain begins
- Either constipation or diarrhea with gas
How Serious Is Appendicitis, and What Happens if It Is Not Treated?
Acute appendicitis is a severe and sudden condition, with symptoms usually developing over one or two days.
If you suspect your abdominal pain is due to appendicitis, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
When left untreated, you run the risk of having your appendix burst a condition known as peritonitis. Peritonitis is a severe life-threatening condition caused by bacteria from your ruptured appendix spilling into your abdominal cavity.
How is Appendicitis Diagnosed
Diagnosing appendicitis is not always easy because many of the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. However, if you experience any severe abdominal pain, it’s a good idea to come to the nearest Altus Emergency Center, so we evaluate and diagnose you.
When you arrive at our center, if our doctors suspect you may have developed appendicitis, they will run some tests to diagnose you correctly. These tests include:
- Abdominal Exam: During the examination, they will check for tenderness in the lower right part of your abdomen, as well as for any swelling or rigidity
- Urine Test: This is done to rule out the possibility of your pain is caused by a urinary tract infection or kidney stones
- Blood Test: A complete blood count test will tell our doctors if you have an infection
- Abdominal Imaging Tests: These tests will help find any inflammation of your appendix. Our doctors may order one or more the following exams:
- Abdominal Ultrasound
- Abdominal X-Ray
- Abdominal CT Scan
When to Seek Medical Help
Sudden severe abdominal pain is usually a red flag. If you suddenly develop any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should immediately head to the nearest Altus Emergency Center.
If we discover you do have appendicitis, we will stabilize you and arrange your transfer to the nearest qualified hospital for your surgery.
Thanks to our business alliances with ambulance services we can arrange transportation for you. In critical cases, we can also arrange to have you airlifted to the nearest hospital where a specialist will be waiting to prep you for surgery.
Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial factors to avoid complications from appendicitis and to help save a patient’s life.
Altus Emergency Centers offers minimal wait times, an onsite laboratory, and the most advanced imaging technology. Therefore, we can diagnose patients faster than traditional hospital-based ER’s.