What is Appendicitis?
The appendix is a small, finger-like structure attached to the large intestine in the lower right side of the abdomen. Sometimes, this structure becomes blocked, causing swelling. The appendix can quickly then become the habitat of a bacterial infection. This inflammation and infection of the appendix is referred to as appendicitis, and it is considered a medical emergency.
While anyone can develop appendicitis, the condition is more common in people between the ages of 10 and 30. Once appendicitis is detected and promptly treated, most patients recover without further complications or long-tem consequences. However, if treatment is delayed, the appendix can rupture, causing infection to spread into the abdomen. A ruptured appendix is very serious, as it can result in a potentially fatal infection.
What are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?
Appendicitis can cause a number of symptoms, but the most noticeable is abdominal pain that usually increases in severity over a period of six to 12 hours. This pain often starts around the bellybutton and spreads to the lower right hand corner of the abdomen, eventually becoming quite severe. Other symptoms may include:
If you suspect appendicitis, your doctor will do a thorough examination of your abdomen, checking where and when the pain is most severe. Because appendicitis can have similar symptoms to other disorders such as ovarian cysts, kidney stones, and Crohn's disease, other tests such as blood and urine tests, X-rays, ultrasound of the abdomen, and a CT scan may be performed.
What Causes Appendicitis?
There is often no clear cause of appendicitis. It is sometimes the result of an inflammation or obstructing object such as a hard piece of stool, foreign matter, cancer, or an abscess. It is also possible that infections which cause gastrointestinal problems may spread to the appendix, resulting in appendicitis.
Once an infection has started in the appendix, the area becomes inflamed, and the appendix fills with pus as the body attempts to fight off the bacteria. If not treated, the appendix is likely to rupture, resulting in a more serious infection.
Help for Appendicitis
Appendicitis generally requires the surgical removal of the appendix. Because this small structure no longer serves any known essential purpose, people generally recover swiftly from this procedure without further complications or life adjustments.
After surgery, a course of antibiotics will help to fight off any remaining infection (although antibiotics can also rob the body of important ‘good’ bacteria’), so it is important to boost your immune system to assist with healing, which will allow for a speedier recovery.
The surgical removal of the appendix is known as an appendectomy. This is either done as traditional open surgery using a single abdominal incision to remove the appendix, or your surgeon may perform laparoscopic surgery. During a laparoscopic procedure, your surgeon will insert a laparoscope (a thin medical instrument along with a small light and miniature video camera) into a small incision in your abdomen. You surgeon will then be able to view the abdominal area on a screen and surgically remove the appendix through one or two other small incisions. This type of procedure is less invasive and allows for smaller incisions, resulting in less scarring and faster recovery. If however, your appendix has already ruptured, traditional surgery is more appropriate.
After either surgical procedure, intravenous antibiotics are usually given to reduce infection, and a hospital stay of between 2 to 5 days can be expected. Most people are back to their normal activities within 3 weeks of the operation.
Other Medical Treatments
In some cases, where the diagnosis is uncertain, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and wait to see if the infection clears. However, in general, antibiotics are insufficient and surgery is generally required.
Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies related to Appendicitis
Surgery is tough on the body and can really hamper the immune system. Luckily, there are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies that work effectively at boosting the immune system and speeding up the healing process, helping with recovery after surgery.
Herbal and homeopathic ingredients such as Meadowsweet, Magnesium phosphoricum, and Symphytum officinale have been used for centuries to treat fever, pain, and inflammation, while Arnica and Symphytum officinale are particularly effective at promoting cell growth and tissue healing.
Other herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Inula helenium and Withania somnifera are commonly used to strengthen and assist the immune system to promote faster recovery, and are well-known for their antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties-- thus reducing the chances of post-operative infections.
After surgery, it’s important to gently nurse the body back to health-- and what better way to do that than with a little added help from nature!