Acute appendicitis: symptoms

Acute appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix (Latin: appendix). This is the narrow, finger-like appendage at the end of the first ascending part of the large intestine, in the lower right part of the abdominal cavity. This small rudimentary organ can cause a lot of inconvenience and in the event of acute inflammation, surgical intervention is necessary, otherwise it can lead to life-threatening situations.


Although the appendix is a vestigial organ (with no known function), it can be affected. Appendicitis is the most common reason for abdominal surgery in the world. If this inflammation is not treated immediately, there is a chance that the inflamed appendix will burst , causing stool from the intestine to end up in the abdominal cavity. This usually results in a life-threatening peritonitis , but encapsulation of the infection can also cause an abscess.


Appendicitis is rare in older people and the symptoms are often mild, so that the diagnosis of the acute phase is often missed. Older people are therefore more at risk of peritonitis or an abscess.

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Symptoms of (acute) appendicitis

There are many symptoms that can indicate (acute) appendicitis. In young children or people over 65 years of age, symptoms can be deceptively mild. Therefore, always consult a doctor if you suspect. Here are some symptoms:

  • Hard stomach.
  • Constipation and gas formation, sometimes alternating with diarrhea.
  • Vague pain around the navel (initially), which can then occur in various places in the lower right abdomen.
  • Sharp, localized, lasting pain within several hours.
  • Pain that worsens with movement, deep breathing, coughing, sneezing, open and touch.
  • Sudden disappearance of abdominal pain after the onset of other symptoms may indicate that the appendix has ruptured (this is a real emergency!).


Cause of appendicitis

Appendicitis is usually the result of a bacterial infection, but the reason for the inflammation is unknown. Another cause is that this part of the intestine can become blocked by a lump of feces or by pinworms, causing it to become inflamed and infected.

Prevention of appendicitis

There are no specific preventive measures against appendicitis. Despite popular belief, swallowing kernels, etc., does not cause an infection.

Treatment of appendicitis

Seek a doctor as soon as possible and if the symptoms are not obvious, measure and record the temperature every two hours. If appendicitis is suspected, laxatives or enemas should not be used (this may cause the inflamed appendix to burst). It is good to realize that painkillers hinder the correct diagnosis.

Operation under anesthesia

If there is acute appendicitis, the appendix must be removed, with the operation performed within a few hours. Do not eat or drink, only a few sips of water if you are very thirsty, because it is better that the stomach is empty before the anesthesia. In the case of an abscess, the surgeon can drain it and prescribe large doses of antibiotics for a course of days to weeks. Later, surgical removal is usually necessary.
In any case, consult a doctor as soon as possible if the symptoms indicate appendicitis.

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