Appendicitis

Isabelle Mann

What is an Appendicitis?

An appendicitis in an inflammation and/or perforation of the appendix.
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Normal Body System Function

The appendix is considered a "safe house" for good bacteria. This means, when the body is overcoming illness, the appendix replenishes the body with the good bacteria. Because of this, many scientists classify it as part of the Immune System. Although the appendix is not a vital body part, many studies show that it benefits the Immune System. However, patients who have had an appendectomy are able to live without it.

Body System Affected

When an appendicitis occurs, the appendix becomes inflamed. This can be considered an "Immune System overreaction". When the appendix is trying to aide the body in production of bacteria, it sometimes over compensates, which leads to the inflammation. If this is not caught in time, the appendix may even rupture.

Target Population

An appendicitis can affect anybody, but it is more likely to occur in males than females (1.4:1). Furthermore, most cases fall in the time frame of 10 to 30 years of age, although an appendicitis can happen at any time. Also, cases of an appendicitis are much more common in the USA and more developed countries. Anybody is at risk of an appendicitis, and the overall lifetime risk is about 7%.
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Onsets

An appendicitis happens when something is blocking the appendix (feces, a foreign object, even a tumor). Some studies show that it may even arise because of a viral infection. Although no one really knows why this condition happens, but there are some ideas. Some scientists believe that it is caused by an "immune system overreaction". After illness, when the body is being replenished with good bacteria (from the appendix), the appendix over-compensates. This is believed to cause an inflammation of the appendix.

Diagnosis

An appendicitis is diagnosed when the patient is taken to the emergency room. Most of the time, a scan is conducted. This includes CT scans and ultrasounds. Other tests may be done, such as blood tests, urine tests, and physical examinations.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many symptoms that could indicate the appendix is inflamed, or has even ruptured. Experiencing pain in the stomach, starting at the naval and stretching over towards the right lower abdomen (where the appendix is located) is one of the most prominent symptoms. The pain may also become worse when walking, coughing, or during other similar activities. In some cases, the pain will recede for a small period of time. However, it comes back just as painful or even worse. It is most likely that the appendix has ruptured with these signs.

Although pain is almost always associated with an appendicitis, it is not the only sign patients experience. Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, swelling of the abdomen, constipation, diarrhea, and feeling ill or "under the weather" are all symptoms of an appendicitis. Sometimes, symptoms may differ in little children and pregnant women.

Do I have appendicitis?

Treatment

An appendicitis can be treated with either antibiotics or (most commonly) surgery.

There are two types of surgery that are usually performed; they are laparoscopic surgery and a single incision surgery. Laparoscopy is less invasive, while a single incision surgery is more commonly used for a ruptured appendix. Most patients recovery more quickly if the appendix has not ruptured before surgery.

Recently, more people have been treated successfully with antibiotics. Antibiotics are only used in cases where the appendix has not ruptured. There is a chance that an appendicitis could reoccur if only treated by antibiotics, but the chances are relatively low (one study out of Finland showed 73% of people treated with antibiotics did not have to undergo surgery the next year).

Prognosis

After an appendicitis, if it is treated, most people live a normal and healthy life. Because the appendix is not vital for survival, the Immune System will still function correctly and efficiently.

However, if the appendix is not treated, it could lead to problems. When a case of an appendicitis is not treated, the harmful bacteria leaks out of the appendix. This could cause a fatal condition called peritonitis, which is an infection of the peritoneum.

Connection

In sixth grade, I was diagnosed with an appendicitis. My appendix had ruptured, and I had laparoscopic surgery in order to remove it.

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