TUMMY TROUBLES: APPENDICITIS

Q. I suppose appendicitis is one of the most common causes for emergency surgery.

A. True, and most people are unaware that about 60 Australians die each year from this disorder, mostly from a delay in seeking medical attention. This should never happen.

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Appendicitis commonly commences with pain around the epigastrium and navel. From 2-12 hours later, it slowly extends to the right lower side of the abdomen, the so-called iliac fossa. There may be some vomiting, increase in pain, mild fever and constipation, although often symptoms are minimum. The pain may be worse with coughing, walking or running.

Q. What treatment is advised?

A. Any symptom that could indicate appendicitis should receive prompt medical attention. Deep tenderness in the R.I.F. region is usually felt on firm pressure at the doctor’s examination. Sometimes tests are ordered, for urinary infections can often mimic a diseased appendix.

However, if there is any doubt, surgical removal is advised and this is often carried out promptly. An acute appendix may burst, causing serious symptoms. Uncomplicated cases recover well, the patient being up the next day and home a few days later. A light diet for a few days, reduced activity for a couple of weeks and the patient soon returns to normal.

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