Appendicitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix, the extended part of the colon. Such inflammation causes obstruction, which encourages growth of bacteria that cause infection. In extreme cases, the appendix can rapture, meaning that other tissue and organs within the abdominal cavity get infected from the initial infection in the appendix.
This is a condition that mostly affects babies and older children below 5 years although it can also affect teenagers and adults as well. The condition affects about 100,000 babies and children in the US a lone and the number is believed to be higher in other developed countries. Cases of appendicitis remain low in developing countries.
The appendix is naturally located on the lower right part of the abdomen. Inflammation of the appendix causes serious abdominal pain and a baby is bound to develop feeling of nausea and is most likely to vomit. A baby can also develop low fever, diarrhea and painful urination. Such a baby also looses appetite.
Appendicitis mainly occurs due to blockage of the appendix. The blockage can be caused by many factors including small stones from fecal matter and intestinal worms. The blockage can also be caused by parasitic, bacterial or viral infection of tissue surrounding the appendix. Such blockage exerts extreme pressure within the appendix, causing inflammation of the same. The inflammation in turn exerts pressure on surrounding tissue, limiting flow of blood both to the tissues and the appendix. This process eventually leads to injury of the tissues that can easily die only to cause severe abdominal pain and possibly other complications as a result of widespread of infection.
Like with any other disease or health condition, treating appendicitis is only commenced after proper and correct diagnosis.
Diagnosing the condition is normally through analysis of resultant symptoms, family medical history and physical examination. However, there are normally cases where such are not enough to properly diagnose the condition. Laboratory tests, ultrasound and CT scan are usually performed in such cases.
Treating appendicitis is normally by way of surgery. How extensive or minor surgery procedure is depends on whether it is a minor or severe case of appendicitis where the appendix is ruptured. Minor appendicitis can easily be treated by use of antibiotics. This is where the appendix is not ruptured and there is no infection beyond the appendix. It is also possible for minor appendicitis to resolve on its own without any medical intervention, depending on a baby’s diet.
Treating severe appendicitis can be very complicated and require surgical procedure. Either laparotomy (one incision of the abdomen) or laparascopy (small incision of the abdomen through which a tiny camera is pushed through can be performed. In both cases, the aim is usually to cut and remove the affected part of the appendix. It also aims at draining infected fluid surrounding the appendix.
Appendicitis is normally an emergency and treatment must be sought in good time to save a baby’s life. Babies normally recover very fast after treatment. While minor cases treated by use of antibiotics resolve within days, babies subjected to surgical procedure can take up to three weeks to heal.