What is Appendicitis? How Can I prevent it?

In your large intestine, there is a small tube called the appendix, it is about 2-4 cm long and up till now, doctors are not sure exactly what it’s function is, we can only assume.

At times, this tube could get blocked, or infected leading to a condition known as appendicitis, where the appendix becomes really swollen and ready to burst,

If it is not treated immediately, it could lead to severe complications that are almost life-threatening

How Do I know I have it?

If you have appendicitis, you may feel all or part of the following:

  • pain in the lower right side of your abdomen
  • pain around your belly button
  • little or no appetite
  • vomiting
  • Nausea or the feeling of throwing up
  • Fever may be high, but is usually low
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inability to pass gas

Some people may just have a fever and nausea, the abdominal pain is not always there.

In other people, it may just start as pain in the abdomen that grows worse with you losing appetite and feeling like you might throw up.

If you are thinking you have appendicitis, and you are constipated, please do not take laxatives, as taking them may cause your appendix to burst.

Always contact your doctor

What causes Appendicitis

Like we said earlier, the appendix becomes inflamed, and this happens because the appendix becomes blocked or infected. Why exactly this happens has not been fully explained by doctors

Your appendix, however, can be blocked by the following:

  • Worms in your intestines
  • enlarged lymphoid follicles
  • tumours, masses close or in the appendix
  • Hardened faeces

Because the appendix is blocked, bacteria can multiply inside it, when they do, it swells and may burst or rupture in the abdomen

What Will Your Doctor Do?

When you go to the hospital and your doctor suspects you have appendicitis, would ask you some questions and examine you, sometimes, it is clear what is wrong with you, but he/she would need some tests to be sure that you have appendicitis.

It is important to add here, that as a woman, an ectopic pregnancy( a pregnancy that develops outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tube) may mimic appendicitis and is an emergency, your doctor will also try to rule that out.

What Happens Next?

If your doctor is sure that you have appendicitis when your results come back, he/she will need

  • Surgery to remove the appendix known as an appendectomy

Sometimes, there may be a collection of pus around your appendix which your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or drain it before surgery

How the surgery is Done

Your surgery can either be done by cutting a hole in your abdomen, or by a small hole that causes less trauma called a laparotomy

How to Prevent Appendicitis

There is no surefire way to prevent appendicitis, however, a diet rich in fibre and vegetables can help reduce your risk against appendicitis, because fibre helps soften your stool making it easier to pass so that faeces doesn’t become trapped in the appendix


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