Never ignore the signs. Appendicitis can happen to absolutely anyone. In fact, it is actually the most common cause of acute abdominal pain requiring surgery in the entire United States of America.
Before we continue, what is appendicitis anyway? And, more importantly, how will you know if you have it?
As the name suggests, appendicitis takes place when there is an inflammation of the appendix.
The appendix is a small sac at the tip of the colon, located just below a person’s lower abdomen. The functions of this sac are currently unknown.
In spite of this, it is very important to always stay safe and alert. The appendix is a part of your body! And you’ll never know when it might rupture or burst.
There is no going back when your appendix fails you. An infection will most likely occur in your body. After that, surgery or an appendectomy is often the only way for you to avoid any further damage from happening.
While medical technology nowadays may be advanced, there is still no sure way to prevent appendicitis. At this point in time, all we can do in the face of it is be prepared.
Know exactly what is going on with your body before it becomes too late. Here are some signs that stomach ache or nagging pain bothering you might just be appendicitis:
1. Abdominal Pains
The first symptom is the most common.
Be alarmed when you feel pain in your lower right belly, near your navel, or any other proximate area in that part of your body. If the pain spreads and moves lower, it may probably be the first sign there is something wrong with your appendix.
The abdominal pain akin to appendicitis usually involves a slow but sure outbreak of pain in the form of cramps or other similar aches, at first in just a small part of your abdomen, and then all throughout it.
Why does this happen? When a person’s appendix becomes swollen and inflamed, an irritation occurs along the lining of his or her abdominal wall.
Sharp pains are then sure to follow. These pangs are usually so fierce and piercing that you simply can’t ignore them anymore. A visit to your doctor is now a must.
Do this before your appendix ruptures and releases dangerous bacteria into your system. If you don’t, more serious medical attention will be required.
2. Appetite Loss
Food is a lot more than just a substance we take in to sustain ourselves on a daily basis. It also provides us with energy and promotes our growth.
The benefits we get from food goes beyond plain nutrition. Food makes us feel good, and it brings us a sense of satisfaction and joy.
When food suddenly does not have that same positive effect on us, there may be a reason to worry. You know something is up when you find yourself unable to eat.
One does not simply lose their appetite for no reason. Appetite loss is the body’s way of saying that it is not working the way it is supposed to.
When this and another symptom on this list happens, check in with your doctor. You may have appendicitis.
3. Nausea and Vomiting
In cases of appendicitis, here is how the pattern goes: first comes pain; then comes nausea; and then there is the uncontrollable urge to vomit.
Nausea is the discomfort in your stomach that is separate and distinct from the pain in your abdomen. When nausea arises, vomiting often follows.
The experience of nausea takes place because there is something within you that the body is openly seeking to reject. This may be food, a scent, or some liquid that simply does not agree with your system.
Nausea and vomiting can be a one-time thing, or something that recurs from time to time. When it is the latter, there may be an underlying medical condition causing that phenomenon to happen.
While the combination of nausea and vomiting is a classic symptom of appendicitis, do not self-diagnose! It may still mean so many other things.
Instead of jumping to conclusions, look for professional help right away.
4. Swollen Bellies
The swelling of your belly is no laughing matter. Your stomach area is not supposed to expand beyond its normal size. If it does, there is definitely something wrong that you cannot leave unchecked.
Stomachs can get bloated after a heavy meal. However, if it gets unusually large and does not seem to subside, it is time to question whether what’s inside it is still food, or maybe something else.
Bloating can be caused by a variety of reasons. Overeating and pregnancy are but two of them. Appendicitis may be another.
After all, when an appendix is inflamed, the body reacts and adjusts to it accordingly as a means of self-defense.
If the bloating of your stomach is simultaneous with the occurrence of any other sign or symptom listed here, there may be a good reason to believe you have appendicitis.
Confide with your doctor right away, and know for sure!
5. Mild Fevers
The average body temperature of a healthy human being ranges from a high of 99°F or 37.2°C, and a low of 97°F or 36.1°C.
As a precaution, special attention must be given when body temperatures not within these rates—but still close!—are recorded.
While a mild fever may sometimes be just a passing illness, there are instances wherein it happens as a precursor for some other more serious disease.
As appendicitis is a disease that does not manifest right away, a fever with a temperature between 99°F (37.2°C) and 100.5°F (38°C) may already mean you have it.
Keep an eye on how high or low your temperature fairs on the scale of your thermometer. When someone is afflicted with appendicitis, a higher or lower fever may mean different things.
Fevers greater than 101°F or 38.3°C need to be reported to a doctor right away. Someone with a fever that high and a heart rate that has significantly increased may already be dealing with a ruptured appendix.
Antibiotics can only do so much when that happens. A ruptured appendix is potentially fatal, and the only way to combat this and whatever effects it may have on a body is through emergency surgery.
Before this happens to you, keep yourself informed. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry!
6. Gas Pains
While passing gas is not something to be done openly in public, the ability to do so on a regular basis is actually a sign of good health. When you can no longer let one rip, that is when you should be worried.
Unbeknownst to many, a person’s inability to pass gas may be a symptom of an underlying problem.
Gas, or the lack thereof, when accompanied by other red flags can mean anything from irritable bowel syndrome to lactose intolerance, pancreatitis, and ulcers. If it is not any of these, appendicitis may also be a logical conclusion.
Work closely with your healthcare provider if gas pains happen to you. It is only then will you be able to determine if this too shall pass, or there is a more serious problem at-home remedies can no longer fix.
7. Painful Urination
When it comes to matters of the appendix, the stomach is not the only body part that is involved. Others may be as well, and the bladder is one of them.
Painful or difficulty peeing is a lesser known symptom of appendicitis. This is because discomfort during urination is better associated with more blatant diseases such as a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease.
While these are true, due to the close proximity of the appendix to the colon, you must never rule out the possibility that your combined abdominal pain and painful urination may be your appendix acting out.
The key to know for sure is to look out for the signs, and then see how these different symptoms may be related with one another.
8. Lower Back Pains
The appendix is but a small part of the human body, and yet it is potentially very deadly. It can burst without notice in a quick snap of a finger, and then spread pain and disease all over.
The probability of this happening all depends on where exactly one’s appendix is located in their body. While in most cases it can usually be found in the abdominal area, in some it may be closer to one’s back than their front.
As such, watch out for any pain in the pelvic region of your body, or on your lower back. Sometimes this is the first sign of appendicitis, and not the more typical abdominal pain.
Do not ignore whatever dull pains you may feel. Neglecting these dull pains is how more severe ones start.
If a throbbing pain in your lower back appears out of nowhere, get that checked. That may be your appendix knocking.
9. Severe Cramps
Another uncommon symptom of appendicitis is severe cramps.
With so many different causes of cramps here and there, appendicitis may just be the last disease anyone will associate it with.
Cramps can take place practically anywhere in your body.
For women, menstrual cramps are almost a routine that comes along with their monthly cycle. Those who engage in exercise are not unfamiliar with cramps as well.
Simply positioning your body in the wrong place at the wrong time may already automatically give rise to cramps.
It is essential to know where the cramps originate. If the source of cramps is the lower part of a body, the existence of appendicitis is possible.
There are cramps, and then there are severe cramps. When the pain brought about by these cramps is unwarranted, no matter the source, a call to the doctor is due.
10. Constipation or Diarrhea
The last symptoms on this list are perhaps the least known.
Although the exact purpose of the appendix is unknown, it is your bowels which will be most affected should yours start to cause trouble.
Irregularities in your intestines are usually manifested by constipation or diarrhea.
When you are constipated, something is blocking your bowel movements. When you have diarrhea, they’re too loose.
The appendix may just be that cause, as it is connected directly to the colon. Thus, any irregularity in your appendix may bring about a concurrent irregularity in your bowel movements as well.
A healthy body is supposed to work like a well-oiled machine. If there is anything wrong, it should be addressed right away in order to avoid any further issues.
Who would have thought that these pains we so often casually brush off as nothing can lead to something as serious as appendicitis?
Arriving at a diagnosis for appendicitis is not easy. With many of its symptoms being so common, attesting to experiencing abdominal pain alone is not enough, and neither is mere nausea and vomiting.
There is no one way to know for sure if you have appendicitis. The best any doctor can do is suspect based off of symptoms, histories and exams. Deductive reasoning will then have to apply in order to decide how best to approach this situation.
Allow this list of symptoms to help you find out. If two or more of these appear, consult with a doctor, and then get yourself tested.
Act quick! The complications which may be brought about by appendicitis, when left untreated, are life-threatening.
Remember that the appendix can rupture as swiftly as within two to three days after any of these symptoms appear. The bacteria it releases can destroy a body in even less. That doesn’t leave you with much time to save a life.
Raise your concerns as soon as possible! Know that there is always a reason behind whatever pain you may encounter. If it is not appendicitis, it may be something else. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain by looking forward and caring for your health.