It is a small part of the abdomen. A slight problem can upset it .It is referred to as '24-hr stomach-ache.' Let us learn about the tail-like feature, hanging from the large intestine, called appendix, its problems, effects and treatment.
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the inner walls of the appendix, due to collection of food material and bacterial reaction. It is a small tube, measuring 3.5 to 4 inches in length. The inner walls secrete mucus. The mucus enters the first part of the large intestine, called cecum. If this does not enter the cecum or if the dirt in the large intestine enters the appendix, the condition is called appendicitis. Also, if for any reason, scum gets collected in the appendix, the bacteria attack its inner walls. This also leads to inflammation and appendicitis. Even cancer might cause this condition. Other symptoms are also seen in at least 50 per cent of appendicitis cases. This leads to severe pain in some part of the abdomen or back, difficulty in passing urine, constipation, gas, cramps, etc. For any of these symptoms, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
When there is appendicitis, appetite wanes, there is nausea or vomiting and general feeling of illness. Then slight pain begins in the navel or in the area surrounding it. Then the pain spreads to the lower abdominal region and intensifies. Stomach appears inflamed. Fever, ranging between 99 to 102 degrees, will occur. Though the pain is indicated in navel region, it telegraphs to the surrounding parts. The pain becomes severe, within 24 hours. That is why it is called '24-hr. stomach-ache.'
Detecting the problem
It is difficult for the patient to detect the problem himself. Because, urinary tract infection, gall bladder problems, crabs disease, gastric problems, infection in the intestine, ovaries problems, also show similar symptoms. For detecting appendicitis, ultra sound or CT scan tests, urine test, prostate gland examination and blood tests are necessary. With this, the problem is singled out. Before all these tests, doctors examine physiologically and conclude to a certain extent. At the onset of appendicitis, white blood cells remain normal. But when infection spreads, their number increases. This too helps in detecting the problem. In appendicitis, white and red blood cells appear in urine sample, along with bacteria. When the appendix is infected and is inflamed, it affects the urinary bladder that lies close to it. Doctors might also suggest abdominal X-ray.
Dangerous if delayed
Appendicitis should be treated immediately. In a majority of the cases, the appendix is removed through surgery. This is the primary operation that is in practice, all over the world. When neglected, the appendix will burst or it will be perforated. Then, harmful material enters the abdominal region. This might lead to another serious inflammatory condition, called peritonitis. It is dangerous if appendix is not removed immediately through surgery. Some studies concluded that if the problem is detected in early stage, an antibiotic treatment cures the condition. While the appendix is removed in almost all cases in America, antibiotics are used to cure some mild appendix cases in Europe.
Anti-biotic treatment begins before surgery is conducted, to prevent the condition from deteriorating to peritonitis. A four-inch incision is made, in one of the methods of surgery. Surgery is also done via laparoscopy (a tube-like object, with a camera, is inserted through the stomach). In this method, by inserting the tube with a micro camera in to the abdomen, doctors will be able to see the appendix and the surrounding organs in detail. If appendicitis is detected, the appendix is removed via the laparoscope itself. For this, however, local anaesthesia is necessary. The patient will be able to move around after 12 hours after the surgery. But it will take at least two to three weeks for the patient to come back to normal. Later, there is no need for any precautions.
If appendicitis is suspected, a physician (MD) has to be consulted. If the condition is detected, he will refer to a specialist. There are no preventive measures for appendicitis. However, it has been noticed that people who eat a lot of fibre-rich food, can avoid this problem.
Is Appendix useful?
Lymphatic muscles are seen in the inner walls of the Appendix. This is part of our immune system. There is no clarity over the fact that Appendix plays key role in infants and the aged people. It helps in prevention of diseases among those who are young. There is no proof that long term health problems occur after removal of appendix. It's absence does not affect life. Even though it is considered a Space Occupying Legion (SOL), some researchers stated that it is home for good bacteria. If there is any infection in the digestive system, it is useful to reboot it later, the studies said.