Tuesday, September 25, 2012


We had a recent scare where hubby tells me he has abdominal pain and thinks he might have appendicitis.  Picture him laying on the floor of our kids' playroom in the midst of toys spread about and I'm palpating his abdomen trying to determine if it is serious enough to go to the emergency room!  At the end of the day... it is not his appendix... whew!  His symptoms have not completely gone away but we're hoping it will soon.

I figured this is a good topic to give a short 101 on because it is actually the most common cause for emergent abdominal surgery in the US.

What is it?
Appendicitis is when you get inflammation of your appendix.  Appendix is a finger shaped pouch that protrudes from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen.

Who gets it?
Anyone can get it but it is rare under the age of 2 and is most common between 10 and 30 years old.  It is estimated that 1 in 15 people will get it in the US.

What are the symptoms?
Usually, you will experience dull pain that starts around the belly button and eventually shifts to the right lower side of your abdomen.  Associating symptoms may include:

  • nausea
  • sometimes vomiting
  • sometimes diarrhea
  • lack of appetite
  • low grade fever
Pain is usually worse with movement.  If the appendix ruptures you may even feel better for a little while.  However, once the lining of your abdominal cavity becomes infected, the pain will be worse and you will be more sick.

What causes it?
Obstruction from food waste may block it and cause inflammation or an infection can cause it.

How do you test for it?
It is important to get a physical exam.  Your doctor may also order blood tests looking for infection and imaging like a ct scan or ultrasound.

How do you treat it?
Usually treatment involves surgery to remove the appendix.  Sometimes you have to drain the abscess around the appendix if has already burst.

You can get really sick really fast so it is important you call and see your doctor if you suspect appendicitis.