Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. It results from an infection caused by bacteria. The appendix becomes swollen and filled with pus. It may break and cause an infection of the surrounding organs of the body. The pus may otherwise be walled off and form an abscess.
An attack of appendicitis generally begins generally begins with a pain which starts in the lower right side of the abdomen, which comes and goes. Nausea sometimes accompanies the pain. Later on, the pain becomes continuous and soreness spreads over the region of the appendix. The abdominal muscles become tight, and fever develops. A blood count at this time shows a great increase in the number of white blood cells.
Anyone who takes laxatives or cathartics, such as castor oil, during an attack of appendicitis, runs great danger. These may cause a rupture of the appendix and spread bacteria among the adjoining organs. Doctors advise people never to use laxatives in any disorder in which appendicitis is suspected. Appendicitis patients must lie quietly in bed, with an ice bag over the region of the appendix. No food should be eaten and a doctor should be called immediately and diagnosis made as quickly as possible, because the treatment usually requires surgery. In some mild cases, the disease may be treated by dieting, rest, and local application of cold. When appendicitis is chronic, the attacks are usually repeated.