What is Appendicitis?
This common condition is an infection of the appendix. It can cause pain at the lower right side of the abdomen. Treatment is with intravenous antibiotics and surgery for removal of the appendix.
Appendicitis can affect anybody, but it commonly occurs in individuals between 10 and 30 years old. However, the signs and symptoms do not always follow a simple pattern. If the appendix gives way, pus and infected material will leak into the whole abdomen. This can cause an infection of the abdominal cavity known as peritonitis, a life-threatening condition.
What are the symptoms of appendicitis?
Common symptoms of appendicitis include:
- Abdominal pain that starts in the middle of the stomach and quickly travels to the lower right-hand side where it becomes intense in a few hours
- Feeling of bloatedness
- Nausea and vomitting
- Loss of appetite
- Constipation or diarrhea
If you have these symptoms, do consult a doctor immediately. Appendicitis is considered an emergency because of the risk of rupture within 48 to 72 hours of the symptoms occurring.
What to expect?
Before the procedure
- Stop all food and drinks when experiencing pain and immediately seek a doctor’s opinion
- All regular medications will be stopped unless absolutely necessary under a doctor’s supervision.
- If appendicitis is suspected, you will be admitted and kept fasted.
- You will be started on intravenous fluid and antibiotics.
- A CT scan may be required for diagnosis. However, most of the time diagnosis is confirmed with a history and physical examination (clinical).
On the day of the procedure
- The appendix is usually removed with the keyhole technique.
- If caught early, the surgery is straightforward and you may be discharged in 24 hours. However the length of stay and recovery from the procedure depends on the patient and severity of the appendicitis.
- Your surgeon will advise you on the specific details.
After the procedure
- You may be allowed to drink fluids and eat within the next 24 hours. However, allow your appetite to guide you. Do not force food.
- You will likely be able to resume daily activities within one to two weeks.
- Schedule a follow-up appointment with the doctor within two weeks after the operation.