Where is the appendix located / What side is it on?
The appendix is an elongated tube shape pouch that is located on the lower right side of the abdomen.
The small, narrow pouch attaches from the intestinal wall and extends from the gut wall of the small intestine to the lower right belly region.
On rare occasions an individual may by born with a congential condition known as situs inversus, oppositus or mirror-imaged anatomy in which the appendix is located on the left side of the abdomen instead of the right.
Depending on the individuals body the appendix can measure anywhere from less than one inch (2 cm) all the way up to nearly 8 inches (20 cm).
In most individuals however the appendix averages 3 – 4 inches in length (8 cm – 10 cm).
In regards to the circumference or diameter of the appendix an average appendix generally measures between 7 – 8 mm.
Factors such as gut health, infection, birth defects and injuries can all have an impact on how small/large the appendix becomes.
What does the appendix do?
For a long time the necessity/purpose of the appendix wasn’t well understand and many people saw little reason for the appendix to exist.
Part of the confusion regarding the purpose of the appendix has had to do with the fact that most individuals who have had their appendix removed seemed to perform just as well or even better (with no ill effect) after losing their appendix.
In 2007 however researchers from Duke University proposed the idea that the purpose of the appendix is to manage and maintain gut flora (good bacteria), which is necessary for fighting off bacterial infections and overgrowth.
The research discovered that individuals who have had their appendix removed were much more likely to become infected by clostridium difficile colitis, which is a form of colitis that results from an infection caused by clostridium difficle.
The appendix has also been identified as playing an important role in the lymphatic system as well as being part of the vestigial structure.
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis is a condition in which the appendix becomes infected and inflamed due to bacterial infection/overgrowth.
In most cases these infections are caused by an obstruction/blockage that allows bad bacteria to develop and grow inside the organ.
Obstructions may include fecal matter, tumors, worms and physical trauma among other complications.
It is also assumed that appendicitis may be caused by other lessor known factors.
For those who face appendicitis the condition is most commonly found among individuals between the ages of 10 – 30.
When appendicitis occurs the appendix may become inflamed leading to severe pain that typically occurs around the navel/belly button and gradually increases as it makes its way to the lower right area of the stomach.
Other symptoms may include increased body temperature, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite and abnormal bowel movement.
Unfortunately for those do suffer from appendicitis one of the only effective methods known for dealing with the condition is to have a surgery performed as soon as possible in order to remove the appendix.
It is vitally important that the appendix is removed prior to it rupturing as it could cause bacteria to leak out, which may lead to significant medical issues and complications.
Once an individual begins noticing symptoms of appendicitis and is diagnosed with the condition he/she may only have between 24 and 72 hours before the appendix is at risk of bursting.
For further reference here are some of the most common signs of appendicitis.
Some individuals may experience different levels of pain or observe symptoms that are different from others who have had appendicitis.
Signs of appendicitis:
- Loss of appetite
- Light fever
- Abnormal pain (often of the lower right abdominal area)
- Tenderness to touch
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inflammation and/or tumors
- Diarhea or abnormalities in bowel movement (even constipation)
In extreme cases that involve the growth of a tumor it is possible that an epithelial tumor can become cancerous.
While appendix tumors are rare it is important to get an examination done if you suspect that you may be dealing with appendicitis or feel any significant pain in the lower right abdomen.
Symptoms that begin to show will typically worsen over the following 6 – 24 hours.
Recovering from an appendectomy (surgical operation)
The typically recovery process after having your appendix removed is to remain rested at the hospital or surgical center for 1 -3 days to observe the recovery process and ensure that proper recovery is occurring.
Following leaving the hospital the patient may be prescribed pain medication, be put on a specific diet and be required to rest for an additional 3 – 5 days with more severe cases (such as a bursted appendix) requiring up to 2 weeks of rest.
As the body begins to recover the individual may perform light activities until they are fully recovered.
If the appendix ruptures the bacteria/infection within the appendix may leak out into the abdominal cavity and surrounding area causing a more severe infection.
When this occurs a doctor may be required to drain the excess with a tube following the appendix removal procedure.
Additional antibacterial medication may be prescribed to help fight the infection that is caused by the leak out.
How to find out if you have appendicitis
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and believe you may be suffering from appendicitis you should see a physician immediately.
Self diagnosis is not recommended as appendicitis is a severe condition that can lead to death if it remains untreated or misdiagnosed.
In order to determine whether or not your medical condition is in fact being caused by appendicitis a trained professional may perform a medical examination, conduct a blood test and/or use an imaging machine such as an ultrasound, MRI or PET scan to detect any medical issues.
If it is assumed you are suffering from an infection further examinations will be performed to determine your condition and you may be prepped for surgery or moved to a location that can perform the surgical procedure.