Appendicitis or The Flu?

It is not uncommon for those with appendicitis to not have the classic symptoms of the condition. This is especially true for young children who cannot adequately describe their pain.

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small tube of tissue, about 3.5 inches long, that extends from the large intestine. The inflammation is thought to start as a result of obstruction, either due to swelling of the inner lining or by a hard stool.

Appendicitis is a medical emergency and in most cases, requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. Although a study suggests that the appendix may have a role in gut immunity, nothing’s definite and we can live without it.

Appendicitis or Stomach Flu?

Some of the signs and symptoms of appendicitis are similar with the stomach flu. Because of this, many patients with appendicitis are sent back home due to misdiagnosis. Knowing the telltale signs of appendicitis that differ significantly from stomach flu can save lives and prevent complications.

Stomach Flu

The stomach flu is caused by a virus that attacked the intestines. One usually gets the stomach flu through contaminated food or water.

Common symptoms of stomach flu are abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, muscle aches, fever, and headache. These typically appear one to two days after the exposure to the virus. Symptoms usually last for one to two days, but can last up to 10 days.

Appendicitis

Appendicitis occurs as a result of infection and inflammation of the appendix.

The symptoms of appendicitis such as loss of appetite, fever, constipation or diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, and rectal pain. Another symptom is a sudden abdominal pain that begins around the navel, and shifts to the lower right abdominal area, develop quickly and worsening within hours.

Seeking Help

To confirm the diagnosis of appendicitis, the doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam and may order some tests such as a blood test to check for a high white blood cell count, a urine test to rule out UTI or kidney stone, and CT scan.

Appendectomy, or the surgical removal of the appendix, is the standard treatment for appendicitis. It is usually done by doctors once the diagnosis has been confirmed to prevent rupture of the appendix. A ruptured appendix can spread the infection throughout the abdomen. It’s a life-threatening condition that requires immediate surgery.

If you suspect that you have appendicitis, do not wait to seek medical attention. At Premier Surgical in Knoxville, our board-certified surgeons are experienced in the evaluation and management of conditions like appendicitis.

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