The appendix is an interesting organ. While everyone has one, no one actually knows what an appendix does. However, you probably know pretty quickly if you have a ruptured appendix. Everyone knows the signs of sharp pain in the lower right side of your abdomen.
Whether or not you still have your appendix, it is essential to be aware of what a ruptured appendix is, what it can do, and why it is vital you seek medical help immediately. An appendix may not have a purpose, but it can be detrimental if left untreated after a rupture.
While appendicitis can happen any time in life, it is most common between ten and twenty years old. More often, males are affected, as well. The Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that treating appendicitis within 36 hours decreased the chance of a ruptured appendix to only 2%, so early medical attention is critical.
At Nually, our goal is to bring you and all of our readers the most up to date and relevant information about a variety of conditions and pain management techniques.
Appendicitis and Ruptured Appendix Overview
The appendix is a small tube of tissue that is just under four inches long. It extends from your large intestine in the lower right side of your abdomen. Doctors do not know the purpose of the appendix. There has been some thought that it plays a role in gut immunity, but no direct evidence has been found.
Doctors do know that we can live with or without it. However, if you get appendicitis, which is an inflamed appendix, you definitely should not live with it anymore. Appendicitis, left untreated, can lead to a ruptured appendix and potentially death.
If you have appendicitis, you will most likely need emergency surgery to remove the appendix. If a doctor does not remove the inflamed appendix, it will eventually rupture. A ruptured appendix will leak dangerous materials into your abdominal cavity, which can cause severe problems if left untreated.
When your appendix becomes blocked, appendicitis can occur. Things like a stool, foreign object, cancer, or infection can all cause this block. Some common symptoms of an inflamed appendix include:
- Pain near the naval that worsens as it gets closer to the lower right side of your midsection
- Sharp pain throughout the abdomen and back
- No appetite
- Feeling nauseous or the need to vomit
- Swelling of your abdomen
- An elevated temperature of 99℉ to 102℉
- Constipation or trouble passing gas
- Pain while urinating
- Painful cramps
If you have any of these symptoms, it is imperative you seek medical help as soon as possible. Without treatment, appendicitis can lead to a ruptured appendix. Avoid food and drinks, as well as any at home treatments like medication or heating pads.
Ruptured Appendix Symptoms
If your appendix does rupture, bacteria that was residing in your intestines escapes into your abdominal cavity. This bacteria can cause inflammation in the lining of your abdomen and outside of your organs. This condition is known as peritonitis, which can be quite painful. The symptoms of peritonitis are:
- Pain throughout your whole abdomen
- Consistent and severe pain
- High fever
- Accelerated breathing and heart rate
- Feeling chilled, weak, or confused
Sometimes, your body can contain the infection by forming an abscess. This abscess will become a pocket of pus and bacteria in your abdomen, which still needs medical treatment. If you have a ruptured appendix and do not get medical help, the infection can get into your blood and cause sepsis, which is a severe condition.
An appendicitis diagnosis is hard sometimes. Because the symptoms of appendicitis are similar to many other conditions, a diagnosis is often a game of elimination. A doctor will want to perform several tests to ensure it is the appendix causing problems.
- Abdominal exam to look for any inflammation
- Urine test to be sure you do not have a UTI
- Rectal exam
- Blood tests to check for injections
- CT scan
Appendicitis and Ruptured Appendix Treatment
If doctors suspect you have appendicitis, they often perform surgery quickly to keep the appendix from rupturing. If the appendix has already burst and formed an abscess, there will likely be two separate procedures to drain the abscess then remove the appendix.
As soon as you are admitted to the hospital for your appendectomy, you will probably be started on antibiotics to prevent peritonitis. Your appendix will be removed by laparoscopic surgery while you are under general anesthesia. If you have a ruptured appendix, the doctors will irrigate your abdomen and drain the pus to rid your body of infection and bacteria.
After surgery, you should be up and moving within 12-20 hours and back to normal activities in about three weeks. Recovery is a relatively easy process when no complications are present. You will want to follow up with your doctor to make sure your body is healing appropriately.
After an Appendectomy
After your surgery, you will want to take things easy for several weeks while your body recovers. You will likely be on a round of antibiotics to prevent any infection. In rare cases, there are complications from the surgery. Be sure to call your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Vomiting without control
- Excessive abdominal pain that medication won’t eliminate
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Visible blood when you empty your bladder or throw up
- Pain, redness, pus, or swelling around the incision
- Elevated fever
An appendectomy might be considered a routine procedure, but you should take it seriously. With a little help, you can manage your pain effectively and be back to your regular life in no time. As with any medical procedure, some risks and complications could occur. It is essential to follow the advice of your doctor.
Having a support system is important, as well.