Why do we have an appendix?

and so what if we don't?

*Where is the appendix?

*Why do we have an appendix and what might go wrong with it?

*What is the treatment for an inflamed appendix?

Where is the appendix?

The appendix is a little 2- to 4-inch pouch located near where the large and small intestines meet at the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. It resembles a little, closed tube, and it produces mucus and contains lymphatic tissue, which is part of the immune system. It also contains bacteria that help maintain intestinal balance.

What does the appendix do? and what might go wrong?

Function of the appendix is somewhat obscure. One theory suggests the appendix stores good bacteria that could repopulate, or "reboot" the intestines with beneficial bacteria after an illness. Other experts believe that it is simply a vestigial organ from our evolutionary past that no longer has a significant role in gut health.

We may not have a good idea about what the appendix does when it is working but, we certainly know when it isn't. Appendicitis is the condition when the appendix becomes inflamed. The classic symptoms of appendicitis include: Dull pain near the navel or the upper or lower abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen; this is usually the first sign, but it only occurs in half of appendicitis cases. Loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting starts soon after abdominal pain begins. Fever and chills are also common symptoms. Early stages of appendicitis can be misdiagnosed as a flu or a bad reaction to food.

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What happens if you require an appendectomy?

Appendicitis most often requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. This medical procedure is call an appendectomy. Left untreated, an inflamed appendix could eventually burst, or perforate, spilling infectious materials into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity's lining (the peritoneum) that can be fatal unless it is treated quickly with strong antibiotics.

If you are not squeamish watch this short video of an appendectomy.


Most of the time there are little to no adverse effects after recovery from an appendectomy. There is some evidence of a slight increase in some diseases that effect the bowels such as Crohn's disease. There is some controversy whether this is caused by removal to the appendix or a side effect of surgery.

What are the recommendations to maintain health after an appendectomy?

There is no robust evidence to support an increased susceptibility to infection once the appendix has been removed and recovery from surgery is complete. However to ensure a healthy immune system and flourishing intestinal life it is recommended to:

  • eat a high fiber diet that includes lots of fresh leafy greens and red peppers, both are good sources of Vitamin A - important for immunity
  • Zinc, another important nutrient for immunity, is found in seafood, milk, whole grains and nuts
  • drink plenty of water
  • limit sugar as sugar or honey can cause digestive imbalance that leads to inflammation

So you want to try your hand at surgery?

This is a free online video game that lets you be the surgeon- completely risk free surgery!