Appendicitis: When to Seek Emergency Medical Care
Every year, appendicitis affects 1 in every 500 people, and the risk of infection increases with age. Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a tube that hangs from the large intestine on the right side of the abdomen.
A sudden pain in your abdomen may initially seem harmless. “Is appendicitis a medical emergency?” you may ask. Read our guide to learn everything you need to know.
Causes of Appendicitis
Yes, appendicitis a medical emergency.
Appendicitis is caused by a blockage in the lining of the appendix. As a result, the appendix becomes infected, causing appendicitis.
The bacteria from this infection will rapidly multiply and cause the appendix to become swollen, inflamed, and pus-filled. Without proper medical attention, the appendix can burst and cause life-threatening complications.
There is no evidence that nutrition, diet, and eating causes or prevents appendicitis. Visit your local emergency room if you experience any of the symptoms below.
One of the main symptoms of appendicitis is sudden pain in the lower right area of the abdomen. Other common symptoms include:
- Navel pain
- Pain when you cough, walk or move jarringly
- Vomiting and nausea
- Appetite loss
- Low-grade fever that worsens as the illness continues
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal bloating
The location of the pain may vary depending on your age and the position of the appendix. For example, pregnant women may feel pain in their upper abdomen as the appendix is higher during pregnancy.
Who Is at Risk?
Anyone is at risk for appendicitis, but there are certain factors that make a person more likely to be infected. Generally, those aged between 15 and 30 are more likely to experience appendicitis.
Males are more at risk of getting appendicitis than females. Your history may also put you at a higher risk if your family is prone to appendicitis.
How Serious Is Appendicitis?
Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency because it can cause serious complications. Putting off an emergency room visit may cause the appendix to rupture.
When the appendix bursts, the infection spreads throughout the abdomen and can be life-threatening.
It’s common to develop a pocket of pus in the abdomen when the appendix ruptures. A surgeon will drain the pus with a tube that must stay in the infected area for about two weeks.
Surgery is required to take out the appendix and clean the infected area. Antibiotics are also prescribed to help clear the infection.
When to Seek Emergency Help
In general, severe abdominal pain is a reason to seek emergency help. You could have appendicitis and may need to undergo emergency surgery to remove your appendix.
If you experience any symptoms of appendicitis, visit our patient-centered ER in Corpus Christi right away.
“Appendicitis.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/appendicitis
“Appendicitis: What Is It?” Harvard Health Publishing, June 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/appendicitis-a-to-z#:~:text=Appendicitis%20affects%201%20in%20every,between%20ages%2015%20and%2030