Contributors: Yasira Sonnier and Dr. Emran from Simple Health Radio
In this episode of Simple Health Radio, Dr. Emran discusses a common infection that can be life-threatening.
“William” is a 15-year-old male who presents to the emergency clinic with abdominal pain and constipation. He began feeling symptoms while at basketball practice on a Friday afternoon. He figured it was something he had eaten, went home and self-medicated with over the counter medication. He also increased his intake of fruits, vegetables, and water to no avail.
For the next few days, his symptoms worsened. Although he wasn’t experiencing any fever or vomiting, his abdomen appeared to be getter larger and tenser. By Monday, his parents became concerned when they saw a decrease in appetite and brought him to the ER.
As Dr. Emran was listening to the parents explain what transpired over the last several days, he began to examine William’s upper abdomen first. He really didn’t have much pain there. However, as he moved closer towards the lower abdomen and umbilical region, he showed signs of being in severe pain.
Dr. Emran immediately had a suspicion of what his diagnosis would be: Acute Appendicitis.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from the colon on the lower right side of the abdomen.
Appendicitis can occur in anyone since there really are no specific findings or activities that cause appendicitis. Studies have shown that there is an 8.6 percent chance that males can develop appendicitis and a 6.9 percent chance in females.
Some symptoms may include:
-Sudden pain on the right side of the abdomen
– Nausea and vomiting
– Low-grade fever
– Increase in pain with coughing, walking and/or sneezing
– Loss of appetite
– Abdominal bloating
In order to confirm or rule out appendicitis, there are a series of tests that can be done.
First, a physician will begin to examine the abdomen region, usually starting with gently pressing on the upper part of the abdomen and working their way down to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen.
Second, they would typically collect a urine sample and basic blood work to identify sources of infection, kidney disease, and liver problems.
Finally, diagnostic imaging would be requested such as a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis.
Once appendicitis is confirmed, the treatment plan is clear and must be expedited. Typically there is only one way to cure acute appendicitis: Surgical removal of the appendix.
The treatment usually involves a procedure called a Laparoscopic Surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is the use of three small incisions in the abdomen around the navel. During a laparoscopic appendectomy, the surgeon inserts special surgical tools and a video camera into the abdomen to remove the appendix. The surgery typically takes less than an hour and has a healing period of 4-6 weeks.
Although it is not clear as to what the exact purpose of the appendix is, researchers now believe that the appendix has the ability to store small amounts of good bacteria.
Unfortunately, there are no proven methods to avoid appendicitis. We simply have no way of knowing what exactly triggers the symptoms, to begin with. The healthiest individuals can acquire appendicitis at any given time, one out of every 20 people can be affected. Although it can happen at any age, appendicitis is uncommon under the age of 2 and most common between the ages of 10-30 years old.
If you have any concerns about abdominal pain or an appendix infection, go to the ER today for a proper assessment and testing. It could save your life.
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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. Dr. Emran and Simple Health Radio do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, consults, or any other information that may be mentioned on this website or radio podcast.
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