Health

Know the signs of appendicitis

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Appendicitis is an inflammation that can lead to infection of the appendix. It is the most common reason for a child to need emergency abdominal surgery and most often affects people from 10 to 30 years old. The risk is higher for boys and those with a family member who has had appendicitis.

The appendix is a small, fingerlike organ attached to the large intestine in the lower right side of the abdomen. Appendicitis happens when the appendix is blocked by a piece of stool or a foreign object that was swallowed.

It also can result from infection. If not removed, it may leak or burst, which can cause a life-threatening condition called peritonitis. There’s no way to prevent appendicitis, but it is rare in countries where people eat a high-fiber diet.

“Patients with appendicitis will usually have some vague, non-specific abdominal pain,” said Dr. Sharfi Sarker, fellowship-trained general surgeon with Centegra Physician Care. “There may be some associated vomiting, fever or chills. Pain will then usually radiate to the right lower abdomen.”

A diagnosis is made with lab testing, ultrasound, CT scans, health history and a physical exam.

“The operation is usually done laparoscopically through three or four small incisions. However, at times, there may be a need for a bigger incision,” Sarker said. “Patients undergoing a laparoscopic appendectomy are usually home within one to two days after the operation. Recovery usually takes one to two weeks.”

Appendicitis is a medical emergency. Call your health care provider immediately if you think your child has appendicitis. This gives more time to diagnose and remove the appendix before it leaks or bursts and spreads infection.

If you are unable to contact your health care provider, go directly to the emergency room. Don’t give your child pain medicine, food or drink. An empty stomach speeds preparation for surgery.

Call 815-455-2752 to make an appointment.

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