Appendicitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

We have all heard of appendicitis or know someone who has suffered from it. About 5% to 9% of Americans suffer from appendicitis, making it a common abdominal condition. The big question is: what is this condition, and is it life-threatening? Is there a way someone can recognize he or she is having appendicitis, and what should you do if you think you suffer from it?

What Is Appendicitis?
This abdominal disorder is an inflammation or infection of a piece of the colon, called the appendix. The appendix can be found on the lower right side of the abdomen – where the large and small intestines connect – and is a finger-sized tube. The medical world is still not sure what causes appendicitis, but they do know that de following factors increase the risk of getting an inflamed appendix:

  • Trauma or injury to the abdomen
  • Blockage(s) at the opening of the appendix where it connects with the intestines
  • Digestive tract infection
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Growths inside the appendix

These blockages can be caused by different things. Think poop, cancer, or something that doesn’t belong in the body at all. In addition, teenagers and young adults – people between 10 and 30 years old – are most likely to develop appendicitis. This is not a set rule, appendicitis can happen at any age, so even if you are still in preschool or if you live in a retirement home.

Are There Any Complications?
The appendix had no known function for the digestive system or any other part of the body, but it can get inflamed or infected. Once it does, someone needs immediate treatment. Untreated appendicitis can get serious to life-threatening complications. One of these complications – and probably the most common one – is called Peritonitis. Also referred to as a ruptured appendix. If the appendix ruptures, the infection spreads through the abdomen, and this can have disastrous consequences, like sepsis, if not treated right away.