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Appendicitis acuta (Latin name)

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Appendicitis is the most common cause of stomach pains. The pains begin in the upper part of the stomach or around the navel. Later, the pains move down under the navel to the right of the centre. Nausea, vomiting and fever may occur. If you suspect appendicitis, you must call the doctor immediately.

The appendix is a small bulge on the colon. It is placed in the right side of the stomach under the navel. It is around 10 cm long and typically 1 cm wide. The function of the appendix is unknown.

Inflammation of the appendix is a common cause of stomach pain. Appendicitis occurs especially in the age of 20 to 30 years but everyone can contract it.

The most frequent complains concerning appendicitis is stomach pains, nausea with possible vomiting and fever. The stomach pain begins in the upper part of the stomach or around the navel. Later, the pain moves down under the navel and to the right of the centre. The pain is prolonged and worsens by movement. If you lie still in bed, everything is okay, however, as soon as you want to leave the bed and walk around, the pains worsen.

Most often, the illness begins without fever. Later, half have a rise in temperature to around 37,6ºC and 38,5ºC. One in every third with appendicitis does not have a fever at all. So some has a slight rise in temperature while others do not have a fever at all. It is very rare that appendicitis cause rise in temperature of more than 39,5ºC.

Typically, it will hurt if you press the stomach – under the navel in the right side. Most people also feel pain there, when they cough.

Appendicitis is very difficult to diagnose – also for the doctors. Half of those operated for suspected appendicitis turn out not to have appendicitis – in those cases, there is an alternative cause for the stomach pains.

If the appendix is filled with inflammation, it can burst. It is the same that can happen to a pimple or a boil – suddenly it bursts and thick pus seeps from it. If the appendicitis bursts, the pains increase and the temperature rises – typically between 38,5ºC and 39,0ºC. Since pus seeps from the appendix, there is a risk that the inflammation can spread within the stomach. If this happens, the temperature rises even further and you feel seriously ill (lie completely still in the bed, has difficulty talking sense, feel like you are fainting).

If the doctors suspect that you have appendicitis, they operate as fast as possible. During the surgery, they remove the appendix. There are very rarely complications during this surgery. Less than 3% of those who are operated on develop inflammation in the wound or the stomach.

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What can you do?

The most important is to call the doctor immediately, if you suspect appendicitis.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

This is never necessary – you must call the doctor immediately if you suspect appendicitis.

Contact the doctor immediately

If you suspect appendicitis.