Let’s talk about the appendix

The appendix doesn’t seem to have any specific purpose, say the doctors as judged by an absence of side effects following appendectomy – the surgical removal of the appendix. Well, I guess it was just a preception. Either ways, many studies are being carried out to understand why this came to be; could it be a reserviour for beneficial bacteria that could serve to repopulate the digestive system in the recovery from a bout of cholera, dysentery or diarrhea as studied by William Parker, Randy Bollinger, and colleagues at Duke University in 2007 or could it be an organ that has degraded to nearly nothing, owing to Darwin’s theory of use and disuse? The answer seems to elude us.

The appendix despite its irrelevance, so to say, is the most common cause of acute abdominal pain requiring surgery. The appendix when inflamed is referred to as “Appendicitis”.

Although appendicitis can strike at any age, it is rare under age 2 and most common between ages 10 and 30. It occurs when the appendix becomes blocked, often by stool, a foreign body, or cancer. Blockage may also occur from infection, since the appendix swells in response to any infection in the body.

Symptoms of Appendicitis

The classic symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begin.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Fever of 37-38 °C.
  • Inability to pass gas.

Some other symptoms of appendicitis may include:

  • Dull or sharp pain anywhere in the upper or lower abdomen, back, or rectum.
  • Painful urination.
  • Vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain.
  • Severe cramps.
  • Constipation or diarrhea with gas

The standard treatment for appendicitis is the surgical removal of the appendix.


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