Recognizing the Signs of Appendicitis

Recognizing the Signs of Appendicitis

Each year in the United States, 250,000 people are afflicted with appendicitis. It can be a life-threatening medical problem if it’s not treated promptly.

To help you recognize the signs of appendicitis, the surgical team here at Rockwall Surgical Specialists is taking this opportunity to quickly review some of the more common symptoms of this potentially dangerous infection.

Understanding your appendix

Most people are unaware of their appendix until it’s in trouble, and that’s because this small organ is what’s called vestigial, meaning it no longer serves a purpose. This 4-inch tube is located in your abdomen where your small and large intestines meet. It’s attached to your large intestine.

While your appendix may not be useful, if harmful bacteria get inside and cause inflammation and infection, you become painfully aware of its existence.

Called appendicitis, the severity of this medical condition very much depends upon the extent of the infection. In extreme cases, the infection can cause your appendix to rupture, sending the infection out into your abdominal cavity, which can lead to life-threatening peritonitis.

Thankfully, this extreme result isn’t all that common. Most patients are able to take steps to clear up the infection or remove the appendix long before something as dangerous as rupture occurs. The key to this successful outcome is seeking treatment at the first signs of trouble.

Signs of appendicitis

Like most infections, one of the first signs of appendicitis is pain, which you feel in your abdomen. The pain can be dull at first, but it very quickly turns into sharp pain on the right side of your abdomen.

You may also develop a mild fever, as well as chills, which are signs your body is fighting an infection.

Another sign of appendicitis may be gastrointestinal upset, namely nausea and vomiting. If your inflamed appendix blocks your bowels, you may also experience bloating and constipation.

During the first 24 hours of symptoms, it’s unlikely that you’re at risk for rupture, but you should still seek immediate medical attention because rupture can occur as quickly as 48 to 72 hours after your symptoms appear.

Signs of immediate trouble include severe pain and a spike in fever — in either case, get yourself to an emergency room.

Treating appendicitis

In 80% of cases of appendicitis, the problem can be cleared up with a course of antibiotics. If your appendix is at risk for rupture, however, the best solution may be an appendectomy, a surgical procedure in which we remove your appendix. 

The expert surgeons at Rockwall Surgical Specialists perform laparoscopic surgery, using the most minimally invasive techniques to safely remove your appendix and clear out all of the infection.

If you have more questions about appendicitis or an appendectomy, please contact one of our locations in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, or Forney, Texas.

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