Appendicitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Stomach pain

Must-Know Things About Appendicitis

The Appendix

The appendix is a part of the human body. It is a worm-like tube that is close-ended and filled with fluid, which extends from the big intestine on the right side of the abdomen and is connected to the colon. The appendix contains a fluid that is a constituent of the immune system, while the appendix wall contains a layer of muscle, though poorly developed.

The appendix, as small as it is, performs a number of functions in the human body, though research is still ongoing on what these functions are. However, some unconcluded research about its function state that;

An appendix may contain in its fluid friendly bacteria that help in the processing and digestion of food.

An appendix may influence the body’s ability to combat infection.

In other words, its role in the human body is important, and removal of it as a result of an illness or the other could expose a person to different kinds of health issues.


Appendicitis is said to be an infection of the appendix that can either be chronic or acute. It occurs when the appendix is inflamed, infected, swollen, and can burst open at any time if proper care is not taken. The infection could be as a result of hard trapped stool in the appendix or a case of stomach infection that affects the appendix that causes it to swell to the point of bursting open.

Appendicitis is an illness that can affect people of any age range, but most cases occur between older children between ages 10 and 12 and adults in their 30s. According to research, appendicitis occurs in the second decade of life, and thousands of appendicitis surgery removals are performed yearly in countries across the world.

Leaving appendicitis untreated can lead to complications like a burst. The bursting of the appendix as a result of infection or inflammation can be life-threatening, and over half of appendix-burst cases did not survive it. When the appendix bursts open, the infected fluid pours on the abdominal cavity, which can lead to fatal results.


The severity of appendicitis has been grouped into two, namely;

  • Chronic
  • Acute

Acute appendicitis: Acute appendicitis is the most ordinary symptoms that appear quickly and develop in little or no time (usually between the space of 1 or 2 days). Acute appendicitis requires urgent medical attention because if it is left untreated, it can cause it to rupture, which can be fatal.

Chronic appendix: Chronic appendicitis is not as common as acute appendicitis. The symptoms of chronic appendicitis are subjectively mild, develop slowly, and can even disappear and reappear in weeks, months, or years. Its symptoms are usually not disturbing. This is why it becomes a challenge to diagnose it. Sometimes it is not diagnosed until it develops into the more severe one (acute) and most times into complications if urgent steps are not taken.


Just like the functions of the appendix is still undergoing medical research, so also is the cause of appendicitis. The cause of appendicitis is still unknown. However, medical experts believe that blockage or stomach infection are the culprits of an inflamed or infected appendix. The following are factors that can lead to the blockage of the appendix;

  • Hard trapped stool in the appendix
  • Lymphoid follicles that are enlarged
  • Intestinal worms
  • Injuries resulting from trauma
  • Tumor

When the appendix gets blocked by one or more of these factors, hazardous bacteria get trapped inside and grow in number and strength. Then the debut immune-system-like fluid contained in the appendix turns into pus and causes the appendix to swell as a result of the blockage. All of these combined bring discomfort, pressure, and pain to the stomach.

Risk Factors

  • Age; appendicitis occurs commonly in people between the ages of 10 and 30 years old.
  • Sex; research states that appendicitis occurs more in males than in females
  • Family history; people who are from families with appendicitis as part of their family health history would have more chances of suffering from appendicitis than those who do not.
  • Though still undergoing research, low fiber diets can also increase the risk of appendicitis.


  • Having appendicitis means you would be experiencing one or more of the following;
  • Pain around the navel or on the upper part of the abdomen
  • Pain in the lower part of the abdomen or the exact point where the appendix is located
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Indigestion
  • Inability to stand straight as a result of the pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Inability to fart
  • Fever

Cushioning the painThe beginning of appendicitis symptoms is mild abdominal cramps. It becomes constant and steady with time. It begins with the upper part of the abdomen and extends to the lower part of the abdomen through the navel. Constipation, which is a symptom, can be very deceptive as you might not know if it is caused by another factor or appendicitis itself. However, medical experts advise that when you notice you have constipation, do not use medications like laxatives as it could worsen and even burst your appendix if the cause of your constipation is appendicitis.

It is wise to visit the doctor when you notice any sensitivity or tenderness in the right part of your abdomen or if you notice any other symptom, as appendicitis could become a medical emergency.


When appendicitis is diagnosed, Doctors suggest treatment options that they think are best for the patient, putting into consideration some factors. Appendicitis treatment may involve one or more of the following;


Appendicitis surgery is known as appendectomy. This method involves the surgical removal of the appendix completely. If the appendix ruptures before the surgery, the surgical process also involves cleaning the abdominal cavity of the pus that was spilled from the ruptured appendix. Appendicitis surgery can be mild or severe, depending on the degree of severity of appendicitis. In some cases, mild laparoscopy can be used to perform surgery, while in other cases, open deep surgery is performed to get rid of infected appendicitis.

Other appendicitis treatments include;

  • Drainage of the appendix with needle
  • Antibiotics
  • IV fluids
  • Pain relievers
  • Liquid diet
  • In very few cases, appendicitis conditions may improve without surgery, but in most cases, surgical removal is advised, and this process of surgical removal is known as appendectomy.

Recovery Time After Surgical Removal

  • Your recovery after surgery depends on various factors. These factors include;
  • Your general health
  • The severity of appendicitis before it was operated on
  • The type of surgery you underwent
  • If you underwent the mild version of the appendicitis surgery, then you might be discharged the same day you had the surgery or the next day. However, having an open and deep surgery for appendicitis would extend your recovery time, and you might not be discharged until weeks after the surgery. This is required to monitor your health and treat the incision.
  • The recovery process of any form of appendicitis surgery or treatment involves taking special diets, changing lifestyle like avoidance of certain activities pending the time your body heals properly.
  • It takes a longer period for you to recover after an open appendicitis surgery, and it takes more time to recover if appendicitis got complicated before the surgery.


fruitsTo date, there is no known way of preventing appendicitis. However, there is a 100% possibility that you can lower your risks of developing it while following some lifestyle and habits as well as diet plans. Appendicitis is less common in people who consume foods that are high in fiber. Foods that are high in fiber include;

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lentils, peas, and other legumes
  • Oat, wheat, brown rice, and other grains
  • You can as well include fiber supplements in your diet to aid proper prevention.

In conclusion. Experts are to date still trying to find out the main purpose and function of the appendix in the body. Notwithstanding, its proposed functions are important to the body and general wellbeing. The symptoms of appendicitis include sharp pain in the abdomen and worsening cases of nausea and vomiting. The severity of appendix signs depends on the type of appendicitis one is suffering from. One kind is mild while the other is severe.  In most cases, surgical removal is the best remedy for appendicitis. Over 250 thousand cases of appendicitis are recorded yearly worldwide. Reporting to the Doctor when you notice any symptom is an important first step to curbing appendicitis complications.