Appendix and Appendicitis

What Is An Appendix?

The appendix is a small and thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine; it is found on the lower right side of the abdomen. There are many theories revolving around the actual use and benefit of this organ. The real reason why it is present in our body has been under scrutiny by scientists for ages. The appendix had been considered to be a useless organ for a long time, but now various factors imply that this is an organ where good bacteria reside to help fight against infection. The appendix seems to be an integral but unexplored part of our immune system. Other scientists believe the organ may have been of use to the early man to digest tough leaves and barks. The appendix is made up of two types of tissues: the outside layer is lined with muscle tissue, and the inside has lymphatic tissue which produces the antibodies. Although it is a known fact that people without an appendix are able to live just as well as others, the usefulness of the organ is still a hotly debated topic.

What Is Appendicitis?

The location of the appendix is at the beginning of the colon where the small and large intestines join; this place is very vulnerable and prone to infection. This is the area where there is a large risk of infection by foreign objects. Appendicitis is a condition that is caused when the appendix gets inflamed; it is a painful infection of the appendix. This is a medical crisis, and if treatment is not given in time. it may rupture and cause a major infection. This can cause an emergency situation that might sometimes even be fatal. Appendicitis usually occurs when the appendix gets clogged by build-up of thick mucus, feces, a foreign object, or sometimes even a tumor (a rare occurrence). This obstruction causes the bacteria inside the appendix to multiply, further resulting in swelling which exerts pressure on the walls of the appendix, inducing it to burst. Finally, the appendix bursts open or perforates the abdominal region, spreading the infection. An inflamed appendix will burst open if not removed in time, leading to a dangerous condition known as “peritonitis”. When infection occurs, the walls of the appendix are swollen and filled with infectious fluid.

The pain felt during appendicitis is not like any pain one experiences during indigestion or a usual stomach ache. It starts near the belly button and moves lower to the right. Appendicitis occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 10 and 30, but it may happen to anyone at any given point in time. One out of 15 people develop appendicitis in his or her lifetime. The occurrence is highest among males, aged 10 to 14, and among females, aged 15 to 19. You will find that appendicitis leads to more emergency abdominal surgeries than any other condition.