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Appendicitis


The symptoms of appendicitis can vary. It can be hard to diagnose appendicitis in young children, the elderly, and women of childbearing age. The first symptom is often pain around your belly button. The pain may be minor at first, but it becomes more sharp and severe. Your appetite will be reduced, and you may have nausea, vomiting, and a low fever. As the swelling in the appendix increases, the pain tends to move into your right lower abdomen. This most often occurs 12 to 24 hours after the illness starts.


If your appendix breaks open (ruptures), you may have less pain for a short time and you may feel better. However, once the lining of your abdominal cavity becomes swollen and infected, the pain gets worse and you become sicker. Your pain may be worse when you walk or cough. You may prefer to lie still because sudden movement causes pain. Later symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting

Treatment

If you do not have complications, a surgeon will usually remove your appendix by doing an appendectomy soon after your doctor thinks you might have the condition. Because the tests used to diagnose appendicitis are not perfect, sometimes the operation will show that your appendix is normal. In that case, the surgeon will remove your appendix and explore the rest of your abdomen for other causes of your pain. If a CT scan shows that you have an abscess from a ruptured appendix, you may be treated for infection. You will have your appendix removed after the infection and swelling have gone away.

Prognosis

If your appendix is removed before it ruptures, you will likely get well very soon after surgery. If your appendix ruptures before surgery, you will probably recover more slowly, and are more likely to develop an abscess or other complications.


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