This is an inflammation of your appendix.

Appendicitis can be severely painful.

Without proper treatment, it can lead to a life-threatening infection.

Anatomy

The appendix is a tube-like pouch connected to your large intestine. Its purpose is not fully understood. It may play a role in fighting infection. It may be a remnant from our evolutionary past. It can be removed without causing harm to your body.

Causes

Appendicitis is commonly caused by a blockage that seals your appendix from the rest of your intestines. This blockage can be caused by feces, growths, swelling or other problems. The blockage allows bacteria to multiply in your appendix. It becomes swollen and inflamed. Eventually, it can burst. This spills the dangerous bacteria into your abdomen.

Symptoms

Appendicitis typically causes sudden, unfamiliar abdominal pain. You may feel this pain in the lower right side of your abdomen. Or, it may begin near your navel and then move down to the lower right side. This pain can worsen quickly. It may hurt more when you move, take deep breaths, cough and sneeze. You may also have loss of appetite. You may have nausea and vomiting. You may experience constipation or diarrhea. Your abdomen may feel bloated. And you may develop a mild fever.

Treatment

Treatment for appendicitis usually involves surgery to remove your appendix. This is called an “appendectomy.” You may also take antibiotics, and have a tube temporarily placed through your skin to drain the infection. If your appendix has burst, your abdomen may need to be opened to remove the bacteria.

Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.