Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Take the Appendicitis Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!
Q:What is the appendix?
A:The appendix is a small, worm-like appendage attached to the colon.
Q:Where is the appendix located in the body?
A:Normally, the appendix sits in the lower right area of the abdomen.
Q:What is appendicitis?
A:Appendicitis refers to painful swelling or inflammation of the appendix.
Q:There is no clear cause of appendicitis. True or False?
A:True. There is no clear cause of appendicitis. Fecal material is thought to be one possible cause of obstruction of the appendix. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can result in infection, leading to the swelling of the tissues of the appendix wall. The various infecting organisms include Yersinia species, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, actinomycosis, Mycobacteria species, Histoplasma species, Schistosoma species, pinworms, and Strongyloides stercoralis.
Q:What are symptoms of appendicitis?
A:Loss of appetite, abdominal tenderness and Abdominal pain, fever, vomiting. Symptoms of appendicitis may take 4 to 48 hours to develop. Early symptoms are often hard to separate from other conditions including gastroenteritis. Classic symptoms of appendicitis include: - Dull pain or tenderness near the navel or the upper or lower abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen - Loss of appetite - Nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins - Abdominal swelling - Low-grade fever - Constipation or diarrhea with gas Almost half the time other symptoms appear, including: - Dull or sharp pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back, or rectum - Painful urination - Vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain
Q:Appendicitis is a medical emergency. True or False?
A:True. Appendicitis is a serious medical emergency that requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix.
Q:Appendicitis can be fatal. True or False?
A:True. Appendicitis can be fatal.
Q:Who is most likely to develop appendicitis?
A:Anyone can get appendicitis, but it is more common among people 10 to 30 years old.
Q:What are the long-term consequences of an appendectomy?
A:There are usually no long-term consequences of appendectomy.
Q:Surgery is the only method used to treat appendicitis. True or False?
A:False. While surgery (appendectomy) is the gold standard of treatment for appendicitis, nonsurgical treatment may be used if surgery is not available or if surgery is not an option. Nonsurgical treatment may be sought if a person is not well enough to undergo surgery, or if the diagnosis is unclear. Nonsurgical options are only used if the patient is not well enough or not expected to survive the surgery itself. If you are otherwise healthy, surgery is the treatment for appendicitis. Some research suggests that appendicitis can resolve without surgery. Nonsurgical treatment includes antibiotics to treat infection and a liquid or soft diet until the infection subsides. A soft diet is low in fiber and easily breaks down in the gastrointestinal tract.
Q:Appendicitis is usually an indication of cancer in the appendix. True or False?
A:False. Appendicitis is not usually an indication of cancer in the appendix.
Q:What are risk factors for appendicitis?
A:There are no proven risk factors for appendicitis.
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