If your appendix becomes infected, it puts you in grave danger. In as few as 48 hours after the appearance of the first symptoms, your infected appendix could rupture and cause a life-threatening infection in your abdomen called peritonitis. Knowing the warning signs can help you get the care you need before this happens.
Appendicitis causes belly pain, but so do several other conditions. One of the classic characteristics of appendicitis-related pain is that it tends to move. Often, appendicitis pain starts near your belly button and then travels to the lower right side and becomes more intense.
Important note for pregnant women: if you get appendicitis during your pregnancy, you may feel the pain in the upper, not lower, right side, since the growing fetus may shift the position of your organs.
Nausea and vomiting can be signs of flu, stress, food poisoning, or any of several other stomach issues, but if you experience these symptoms in conjunction with the severe abdominal pain described above, it’s a good indicator that your appendix is infected.
No one feels much like eating a big meal when they’re dealing with pain and nausea, so again, this symptom may point to a variety of conditions. However, the presence of traveling pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite together often points to appendicitis.
Fever is your body’s way of fighting off infection, so a low-grade temperature — 99℉-100.5℉ — can be an early warning sign of appendicitis. If your appendix bursts, your fever will increase, as will your pain and other symptoms.
If you need to have your appendix removed, Dr. Farrow may recommend either open or laparoscopic surgery.
Whenever possible, Dr. Farrow performs a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure. He makes a tiny incision in your abdomen so he can insert a long narrow tube with a camera at the tip to display an image of your inner abdomen on a monitor. Through another small incision, he inserts a surgical instrument to remove your infected appendix.
Laparoscopic appendectomies are faster, less painful, and have shorter recovery times than open surgery.
If your infection has spread throughout your abdominal cavity, or your appendix has burst, Dr. Farrow may need to perform an open appendectomy. The incision for this procedure is a bit longer — about 2-4 inches — which means it’ll take you a little longer to heal, and you may feel more post-surgical pain.
What to do if you have symptoms of appendicitis
If you experience any or all of the symptoms of appendicitis, it’s critical that you see Dr. Farrow right away. If your pain is severe and your fever exceeds 101℉, go straight to the emergency room or call 911.
Appendicitis is fairly common, affecting about 1 in 20 people in the United States every year. Appendectomies are also common. In fact, according to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, appendectomies exceed the number of appendicitis cases, because some physicians remove the appendix as a preventive measure.
Dr. Farrow has extensive experience and expertise in this area, and is one of the most respected and renowned surgeons in the country. If you need an appendectomy, you’re in good hands at Buckminster Farrow, MD.
To schedule an appointment, call us at either our Houston or Katy location, or book a visit using our online scheduling tool.