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The appendix is a pouch-like organ that sits in the lower right side of your belly. Appendicitis describes an inflamed or infected appendix.
The purpose of the appendix remains a mystery, and it is not necessary for a full and healthy life. However, appendicitis is a medical emergency, and can be life threatening if an inflamed appendix ruptures.
The trusted emergency doctors and nurses at Dignity Health are able to quickly diagnose and treat your appendicitis in Central California with expertise and humankindness. Call 911 or visit a Dignity Health Central California emergency room if you think you have signs of appendicitis.
Recognizing Appendicitis Symptoms
The main symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain. Pain typically starts near your bellybutton and spreads to the lower right side. You may feel discomfort in the entire stomach area.
Additional symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Fever and chills
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Inability to pass gas
Symptoms of appendicitis come on suddenly and intensify quickly. Pain may worsen when you move, take a deep breath, cough or sneeze.
See your Dignity Health Central California doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of appendicitis. Your doctor may order blood tests to check for infection, or a CT scan or abdominal ultrasound to see if your appendix is swollen.
What Causes Appendicitis?
The appendix connects to your large intestine. Appendicitis occurs when something — mucus, foreign object, or most often stool (waste) — blocks the opening between the appendix and the large intestine. The blockage causes irritation, inflammation, and possibly an infection.
An inflamed or infected appendix can rupture, causing contaminated material to spread throughout the abdominal cavity. The resulting severe infection, called peritonitis, creates further complications that can become life threatening.
Treating Appendicitis at Dignity Health Central California
An inflamed appendix can rupture 48 to 72 hours after the start of symptoms. That is why the usual plan of treatment for appendicitis is immediate surgery. An appendectomy — removal of the appendix — prevents complications from a burst appendix, including peritonitis.
Sometimes, people do not realize they need medical help until their appendix ruptures. This happens more frequently in very young or very old people, or during pregnancy. Surgery for a ruptured appendix is more complicated, as your abdomen needs to be cleaned out to remove all infectious material.
In some cases, a ruptured appendix can lead to an abscess (pocket of infected fluid), which may need to be drained before surgery can be performed. Appendectomy may be delayed six to eight weeks to allow for drainage and treatment of the infection.
Call 911 or visit a Dignity Health Central California emergency room for severe symptoms of appendicitis. Our emergency medicine experts will quickly assess your condition and apply appropriate treatment with personal care. Learn more about Dignity Health emergency services.
Dignity Health Central California is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to treat appendicitis in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.