The medical community has never really come to a conclusion about the function of this 3½ inch tube, and you can certainly live without it. However, if something is blocking it, the appendix often causes an emergency situation. In fact, 1 in 20 people in the United States get appendicitis during their lifetime and require surgery to remove their appendix.

While little is understood about this odd little organ that extends from your large intestine, medical professionals do understand the warning signs of appendicitis. At the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery in Peoria, Arizona, our premier team of surgeons shares these five signs that the pain you have is your appendix.

1. Sudden pain on the right side of your abdomen

Remember this: Your appendix is on the right side of your abdomen. If you experience sudden, sharp pain in the lower right side of your belly, it could be a sign of an infected appendix. You might also experience pain that feels like it’s more centered around your belly button, but shifts to the lower right side.

2. Nausea and vomiting

Appendicitis often causes an upset digestive system. That’s most likely because appendicitis is the result of a blockage from your intestines or as a result of an infection in your appendix that leads to inflammation. As a result, you may feel sick to your stomach, or unable to keep anything down soon after you feel abdominal pain, or even before.

3. Constipation, inability to pass gas, and severe cramps

If there’s a blockage in your intestine, it’s sometimes related to appendicitis. If you’re constipated or unable to pass gas, it may indicate a partial or total obstruction of your bowel. Conversely, appendicitis may cause severe diarrhea and severe abdominal cramping.

4. Fever and chills

A fever is a sign that your body is trying to fight off an infection. If you have abdominal pain, nausea, or other symptoms, accompanied by a low-grade fever, it may be a sign that your appendix requires medical attention. If your appendix ruptures, your fever may elevate to a higher temperature.

5. Painful urination

In some cases, appendicitis can mimic the symptoms of a urinary tract infection and you may experience painful urination or difficulty passing urine. If you have these symptoms along with any of the other ones listed above, it could be an appendix problem, rather than a bladder issue.

If you have any combination of the symptoms of appendicitis, seek immediate medical attention. An accurate diagnosis is crucial to your treatment. Don’t eat, drink, or attempt to use laxatives or heating pads. These can cause an inflamed appendix to rupture.

Seek prompt medical care

A ruptured appendix is a dangerous situation; a medical emergency that typically requires prompt surgery to remove the appendix. If not removed quickly, an infected appendix can spill materials like bacteria into your abdominal cavity, which can lead to a condition called peritonitis — inflammation of the lining inside your abdomen. Left untreated, peritonitis can be fatal.

The team of expert minimally invasive and robotic surgeons at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery routinely perform appendectomies. Based on your condition, your surgeon determines the best approach for removing your appendix. It’s possible the team can remove your appendix through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, using small incisions and a tiny camera.

Laparoscopic surgery is ideal for removing an infected appendix because it leaves fewer scars and allows you to heal faster than you would from open surgery.

If you experience the signs of an appendix problem, don’t wait to seek medical attention. Call our office immediately at 623-227-2581, or book the next available appointment online.

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