What causes appendicitis?
Most cases of appendicitis are thought to be caused when something blocks the entrance of the appendix, a small, thin pouch measuring 5 to 10 cm.
It is usually the result of infection, possibly of the stomach, or an obstruction, usually a hard piece of stool (faeces) that gets trapped in your appendix, and the bacteria in the stool then infects the appendix. Once bacteria enter your appendix, they rapidly multiply, causing the appendix to swell and become filled with pus.
The causes are not fully understood so there is no guaranteed way of preventing appendicitis.
Symptoms of appendicitis
Patients can experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, cramp like pain, constipation, high temperature and diarrhea. The pain can worsen by coughing, sneezing or even walking.
The pain can be severe enough to wake someone who is sleeping. It can start with similar mild nausea symptoms of a stomach bug but if it continues to get worse and the pain develops in the lower right abdominal area then you should seek medical attention.
Diagnosis of appendicitis
Only 50% of appendicitis conforms to typical symptoms so it can be a difficult condition to diagnose. Sometimes the pain is gastroenteritis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation or a bladder infection. Some people’s appendixes are sited in slightly different positions. But GPs can usually diagnose by examining the abdomen and applying pressure to the site of the appendix.
In more complex cases, a blood or urine test can check for infection and an ultrasound or CT scan will determine if they appendix is swollen.
Treatment of appendicitis
Mild cases can be treated with antibiotics but in the majority of cases the appendix will have to be surgically removed in a procedure known as an appendectomy, performed through open surgery or keyhole surgery. A prompt operation can result in most patients being allowed home within 24 hours with pain and bruising lasting just a few days and comfortably managed with painkillers. The appendix doesn’t perform any important functions so having it removed does not lead to any long-term problems.
To ask a question about appendicitis or to book an appointment, contact our specialist team available Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9am – 1pm.
Our gastrointestinal specialists team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs. If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP. You can simply refer yourself and book an appointment. If you have medical insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa PPP, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer for authorisation for any treatment and, in most cases, you will require a referral letter from your GP. If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use.Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.
Call us on 020 7078 3802 or email us at [email protected]