An appendix is a sac-like structure present in the human body. It locates in the lower right abdomen, and it is connected to the colon. An appendix serves as a junction between the small intestine and the large intestine. It is a vestigial organ and is believed to have no function in the human body. The original name of the appendix is a vermiform appendix that means worm-like appendages. It is a pouch-like structure with a blind end.
The function of the appendix is yet unknown. However, evidence suggests that it mainly serves as a storehouse for probiotics. These probiotics are good bacteria that aid in the digestion process. An appendix is a useless remnant of the evolution process; it has no specific function to perform in the human body. Even if the appendix is removed from your body, you will not face any health problem and deficiency in body functioning.
However, the presence may invite many health problems and complications. Here are some conditions associated with the appendix. The first one is appendicitis; the majority of us sound familiar with this term. Appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix. The reason behind this appendicitis is blockage of the open end of the appendix. If the opening of the appendix towards cecum blocks due to any reason, this will lead to the accumulation of bacteria. These bacteria will proliferate, resulting in the inflammation of the epithelial lining of the appendix. Mucus and stool or the combination of both may serve as a blocking agent.
The second condition associated with the appendix is carcinoid tumors. This condition leads to slow-growing cancer, and any part of the body can be susceptible to this cancer. Usually, the incidence of carcinoid tumors is in the gastrointestinal tract. The stomach, appendix, and colon are affected by this. Appendix carcinoids account for approximately 5% of total GIT carcinoids. If the tumor grows at the tip of the appendix, it is unlikely to result in the obstruction. If the tumor proliferates at the base of the appendix, chances to obstruction of the appendix may increase. Women are more prone to appendix tumors as compare to men.
Anyone can be affected by appendicitis, but the younger and older population is at a higher risk of developing appendicitis. People between the age of 10 to 30 years are at a higher risk. Appendicitis may be of two main types one is perforative, and the other is non-perforative. According to hospitals, more cases occur for perforative appendicitis. There are advanced inflammation and severe pain in perforative appendicitis.
Complications related to appendicitis are perforation and restricted bowel movements. In perforation, there is an accumulation of pus in the appendix. As it is a blind-ended sac-like structure, accumulation of pus may result in the bursting of the appendix. Any infection any also results in perforation of the appendix.
While we discussed that the appendix is a junction between small and large intestine, sometimes it may interact with the intestine resulting in hindered bowel movements; this would result in abdominal distention, stiffness, nausea, and vomiting. Due to the blockage, an affected individual may suffer from gas and fluid accumulation in the upper parts of GIT.
Symptoms of appendicitis are abdominal pain, stiffness, and loss of appetite. Pain originates from the center and radiates towards the right side of the abdomen. Diagnosis can be made through examination as the affected area is stiff, and a person feels rebound tenderness., this means when the doctor leaves the abdomen after pushing downwards, the intensity of pain increases.
Appendicitis is treated by giving antibodies to harbor potential infections. Another option is to go for an appendectomy that is a removal of the appendix through surgery. Appendicitis is prevailing globally. In Asia and Middle East countries, the cases of appendectomy are increasing while in Western countries, it is decreasing.
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Team Doctor ASKY!