This condition usually happens when the appendix is clogged, infected, and inflamed. A small tube-shaped organ located in the lower right part of your belly (abdomen). It is not clear what the purpose of the appendix is but we know that appendicitis is serious. Usually, the treatment involves surgery that removes your appendix.

What is Appendicitis?

An inflamed appendix leads to appendicitis, which can provoke acute pain in your lower right abdomen. A small pouch, about the size of your finger, is called an appendix. It is located at the end of your large intestine. Inflammation may lead to appendix swelling and bursting. As a result, an appendix burst is considered a medical emergency. Thus, bacteria spread from inside your bowels throughout your abdominal cavity. Furthermore, the infection can cause peritonitis that may spread to your bloodstream and provoke life-threatening complications (sepsis). That’s why the appendix is removed. However, it is not a vital organ.

Types of Appendicitis

There are two types of appendicitis such as acute and chronic appendicitis. However, in most cases, appendicitis is an acute health condition that suddenly begins and can worsen very fast. Chronic appendicitis occurs rarely and we do not know as much about it. In case you experience acute pain in your abdomen, it is not clear what type of appendicitis you have. However, immediately seek medical attention.

In most cases, people experience this condition between 10 and 30 years old. Approximately 5% of people suffer from acute appendicitis during their lifetime in the U.S. while chronic appendicitis experienced only 1% of the population. Furthermore, in children, this condition often occurs during the teen years.


Usually, those who suffer from appendicitis experience the following symptoms. For example:

However, roughly 50% of people with appendicitis experience these symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose this condition for others. Children, older adults, and pregnant women are less likely to experience these typical symptoms.

Check below for other appendicitis symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Swollen belly
  • Urinary symptoms
  • Bowel paralysis
  • Diarrhea

Is it Possible to Check for Appendicitis at Home?

One way that may help to identify whether you have appendicitis or not is to ask someone to place their hand above your right knee. It is required to lie flat on your back and look upward. Thereafter, you should lift your right leg while someone pushes down with resistance. Hence, if your appendix is swollen, this movement will cause pain. However, if you suspect that you experience this condition, better see a doctor.

In addition, several health conditions may be confused with appendicitis. It is due to symptoms that are very similar to other diseases. Check below some examples:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diverticulitis of the colon
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Pancreatitis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Kidney stone
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

For more details, talk with your healthcare professional.


The appendix becomes clogged and infected due to its size and location. In your small intestine lives a wide variety of bacteria and when many of them are blocked in the appendix provokes infection. Check below the common causes of swelling, obstruction, infection, or inflammation in your appendix:

  • Lymphoid Hyperplasia – A part of your body’s defense (immune system) is the lymphatic system, which usually produces white blood cells to fight against infections. Therefore, it may lead to lymphoid tissue in your appendix to swell and cause obstruction or infection.
  • Colitis – Some infections can provoke inflammation in your colon or even inflammatory bowel disease could negatively affect your appendix.
  • Hardened Poop (Appendix Stones) – Appendix stones or fecaliths appendicoliths may get blocked in the opening of your appendix. Thereafter, bacteria that were in your appendix may also get blocked.

There are some other factors that may also block your appendix opening. For example tumors, parasites, cystic fibrosis, and others. Ask your doctor in case you have any questions.

What Usually Causes Chronic Appendicitis?

Mild inflammation on and off for long periods of time causes chronic appendicitis. As a result, it may be a chronic disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or mild bacteria overgrowth. In some cases, it also may be an obstruction moving out of the appendix opening. In case these infections and inflammations last for a long time, they can provoke lymphoid hyperplasia, scar tissue in the appendix, and others.


This condition is treated as an emergency because if left untreated some complications may occur quickly. Check below some examples:

  • Peritonitis and spreading infection – The infection can spread to your peritoneal cavity causing peritonitis or to other organs and the bloodstream (septicemia). Furthermore, if it spreads to your bloodstream the infection can provoke sepsis and septic shock, which can be life-threatening.
  • Abscess (Phlegmon) – It usually forms on the outside of your appendix. An abscess is a pocket of puss that appears if an infection does not spread far away from the appendix. Thus, it may also develop a mass (phlegmon) around itself. Moreover, these masses contain infection and can burst.
  • Gangrene (Perforation) – Commonly, an infection can spread in case necrosis sets in. Thereafter, it slowly spreads through internal gangrene or quite fast when your appendix tears or bursts (perforation).
  • Ischemia and Necrosis – In some cases, inflammation may increase and provoke tissue to begin to decay (necrosis) if severe swelling in the appendix stops blood supply also called ischemia.


You might think about how this condition is diagnosed. A healthcare professional will ask about symptoms and perform a physical exam to verify appendicitis symptoms. In case it is not clear whether you have appendicitis or not, your doctor may order additional tests to confirm this condition.

Check below some tests involved to determine if it is appendicitis or another condition:

  • Blood tests (done for inflammation or C-reactive protein count)
  • Imaging tests (abdominal ultrasound)
  • CT scan (can show if your appendix is swollen)

Additionally, it is not advised to administer any medications without a physician’s recommendation because they may worsen your symptoms.


Appendicitis treatment involves medicines and commonly surgery. It is usually treated in the emergency room (ER). Check below these treatments in detail:


Commonly, all people who experience this condition need antibiotics. These drugs are used to prevent infection even if do not have it because an infection may start with appendicitis and as a preventive treatment before surgery.

Furthermore, in mild cases of appendicitis, your physician may wait because antibiotics may help you without any invasive procedures. In case medications are not enough, surgery is performed to remove the appendix.


After your physician diagnoses the appendicitis, the surgery will start within 24 hours. It is because your appendix may burst within 36 hours of your first symptoms. In some cases, surgeons may use certain less invasive methods (such as laparoscopic surgery). Moreover, one of the most common surgeries performed in the entire world is Appendectomy.

However, usually, adverse reactions are not noticed because it is not clearly known the appendix function.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can food provoke appendicitis?

In some rare cases, an undigested seed or nut may get blocked in the appendix opening. Thus, this can lead to inflammation. However, including enough fiber in your diet may help to reduce the risk of appendicitis.

Is stress a risk factor for appendicitis?

Generally, not but in some cases bowel ischemia may occur due to severe psychological stress. Hence, a decreased blood flow to your bowels may negatively affect your appendix.

Is appendicitis a genetic disease?

Your risk of appendicitis is not increased even if you have a family history of this condition. Discuss with your doctor for more details.

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