Appendicitis is one of the most common conditions requiring surgery today. It is said that one out of 15 people in the world have suffered from appendicitis at some point in their lives. In the UK alone there are over 400,000 cases reported every year, and in the US one in every 13 is said to have appendicitis.
It is interesting to note that unlike other diseases, appendicitis seems to occur more frequently in young people, affecting those between ten to thirty years of age. It is a problem most prevalent in the developed world with western nations recording the highest rates. Understanding the implications of appendicitis will prove fruitful when diagnosing or experiencing it, albeit through a friend or family member.
It is important to note that not much is known about the appendix as an organ of the body. The appendix is a small pouch that is attached to the large intestine, and to this day its function is veiled at best. There are some who argue that the organ has a far more important role than previously thought. For instance, it is now known that the appendix produces immunoglobulin; a substance that is very important for the immune system. However, immunoglobulin is also produced in other parts of the body rendering the appendix somewhat superficial.
Appendicitis is a very dangerous disease and under extreme circumstances can be fatal. There are no known causes for appendicitis though the ‘western diet’ has been linked to an increasing number of cases in western nations. Fast foods are lacking crucial fibers and have large quantities of fat making it dangerous not only for the intestine, but to the body in general. Hence the need for prompt treatment whenever symptoms appear.
There are various tell signs if someone is suffering from appendicitis in the preliminary stages. The first sign to appendicitis is abdominal pain. During the preliminary stages of chronic appendicitis, pain in the lower abdomen can manifest. This pain will not be severe and subsides quickly. This is why people do not consider it a threat in the beginning, and usually define it as an upset stomach. It is in this stage that the pain increases substantially, focused within the appendix. It is recommended to not press the abdomen to alleviate the pain, which can potentially make the situation worse.
Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, low-grade fever and a sudden change in abdominal pattern. These symptoms are similar to other infections or diseases, and it is sometimes hard to differentiate between them. This is why it is always important to seek the help of a medical professional once symptoms arise.
For a long time the only available treatment for appendicitis was an appendectomy, or the removal of the appendix. Many go to a doctor once the condition of the appendix has become rather serious, to the point that it has already ruptured, or is close to rupture. A doctor would then be forced to carry out an appendectomy as fast as possible to avoid life threatening complications.
Recent studies indicate that antibiotics can be a suitable treatment option for those whose appendicitis is still in its early stages. It is said that up to eighty percent of patients suffering from appendicitis do not require an appendectomy.
Chronic appendicitis is more common than acute appendicitis. Antibiotics are known to be very helpful in the treatment of those with chronic appendicitis. Research on five hundred and thirty patients found that seventy-three percent of them found antibiotics helpful. Among those that took the antibiotics, 99.6 percent of them fully recovered.
The success rate and efficacy of antibiotics in patients suffering from appendicitis, represents a positive outcome for the medical community. The alternative offered by antibiotics indicates less individuals will have to undergo the invasive procedure of an appendectomy.