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Fascinating Facts About Appendicitis

Your appendix, a vestigial organ that has been long rendered dysfunctional, still continues to be an object of intrigue and research. Read on for more such facts on appendicitis that you probably had no idea about.

  • 03 Aug 2019
  • min read

The appendix is a small tube-like organ, attached at the end of your large intestine. It is a vestigial organ, one that has been rendered dysfunctional by continuous evolutionary processes over millions of years. But don’t make the mistake of going by the size of it!

Did you know, that despite over 500 years of study, the appendix still remains shrouded in mystery?

Right from the ancient Egyptians to Charles Darwin, the appendix has been successful in appealing to some of the best minds in the annals of history. Leonardo Da Vinci was believed to have dissected over thirty human corpses to understand the appendix and its functionality.

But like every other organ, this vermiform (worm-like) structure is also not free from afflictions. Appendicitis is a medical condition that results from the inflammation or infection of the appendix. This disease is caused when the appendix is blocked by bodily impurities or any other foreign object.

However, there still remains a slew of facts (about appendix and appendicitis) that are yet not known to most. Four such least-understood things have been stated below:

  • The nature of appendicitis can be misleading

There is a high chance that you end up mis-diagnosing appendicitis for other common ailments. The condition can flare up, and present itself in the garb of:

  • Fever associated with a food infection
  • Diarrhoea associated with Amebiasis (parasitic infection of one’s intestine)
  • Bloating associated with an eating disorder

Often, signs of appendicitis can be elusive, thus giving off a false sense of security. You should certainly abstain from any kind of self-diagnosis and avail immediate medical help, should you experience common symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting and loss of appetite.

  • Appendicitis pain is good!
  • Yes, you read that right! With appendicitis, chances are you will suffer from a lingering pain. But don’t rest assured if it subsides. The cessation of pain may be associated with organ rupture. This can lead the impurities inside the appendix to seep into the abdomen, thereby resulting in infections (peritonitis).

    This can be fatal, and thus, warrants immediate surgical intervention in order to prevent further contamination of the abdominal cavity.

  • Surgery is not the only option
  • A cure for appendicitis might not always involve invasive medical procedures. A milder form of the disease – that constitutes 80% of all diagnoses -- is treatable with antibiotics.

    Appendectomy or surgical removal of the appendix may be required for the other type. Your doctor can determine the procedure applicable for you by analysing medical test reports.

  • Gender is a great determinant of risk
  • Research reveals that men might be more vulnerable to appendicitis. While the reason for this is not apparent, researchers believe that individual dietary habits (such as low intake of fibre among men) could play a major role.

    If you are trying to build resistance against this disease, maintaining a balanced diet (replete with fruits and vegetables) and leading a healthy lifestyle can be a good start.

    Now that you are aware of some of the little-known facts about this condition, it is time to answer the more critical questions.

    What are the common causes?

    This condition arises from blockage of the appendix, leading to an internal build-up of bacteria. It may be the result of:

    • Stool deposition
    • Tumours
    • Severe trauma
    • Activity of intestinal parasites
    • Enlargement of lymphoid follicles (small tissue masses containing inflammatory cells)
    • .

    What are the symptoms?

    Appendicitis is marked by abdominal pain. However, look out for other symptoms such as:

    • Nausea
    • Indigestion
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of appetite

    How can appendicitis be diagnosed?

    Diagnosis involves a cluster of medical examinations. You might be required to undergo:

    • Complete blood count to check for bacterial infections
    • Urine tests to rule out possibilities of urinary tract infections (UTI) or kidney stones
    • Abdominal imaging (CT scans, MRI) to ascertain probable causes

    How is it treated?

    Usually, treatment involves surgery to remove the inflamed vestigial organ. You might be recommended antibiotics prior to the surgery.

    • Laparoscopic or keyhole surgery: This minimally invasive surgery is conducted through small abdominal incisions (generally less than an inch in size)
    • Open surgery (Appendectomy): This procedure is performed through a larger incision (usually 2-5 inches long). Your doctor might consider this approach, depending on the complications (appendix rupture, for instance) your test reports show up.
    • Antibiotics: Common antibiotics used to treat appendicitis include cefotetan, cefotaxime, ampicillin and sulbactam, cefepime, piperacillin and tazobactam, and ticarcillin and clavulanate.

    Also read:

    What is the post-operative recovery time?

    • In case of a laparoscopic surgery, post-operative downtime is usually low. With the help of over-the-counter (OTC) medications, you should be discharged 24 hours following the surgery.
    • In case of appendectomy, it may take you up to two weeks to resume regular activities.

    Appendicitis, while being a painful condition, can be kept in check by following good personal hygiene. Besides the more conventional modes of treatment, there is a range of home remedies that you can fall back on.

    Disclaimer: However, there is no substitute for medical assistance from your doctor. Don’t attempt any form of self-diagnosis.

    As pre-emptive action, you can avail innovative health insurance from leading insurers in the market. Guided by the cutting edge Artificial Intelligence, these insurance products offer all-inclusive coverage from a range of expenses incurred on treating conditions such as appendicitis.

    Related Article:

    Liver Diseases on the Rise: 5 Prevention Tips
    Fighting Vector-Borne Diseases: The Smart Way

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