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By Azure Hall/Aug. 31, 2021 9:25 pm EDT

While going about your regularly scheduled day, internal medicine arlington heights il you’re struck with a sharp pain in your lower abdomen. Quick check, right side or left side? Is it gas? Are you dying? That appendix sits in your body like a ticking time bomb ready to cause anxiety every time you have an upset stomach. If you’re concerned about the condition and want to have the facts before your next freakout, here are some common causes of appendicitis. 

Before we get into causes, what exactly is appendicitis? It’s a little bit more complicated than just a stomach ache. In medical terms, appendicitis is “an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen,” (per the Mayo Clinic). Its primary source of pain is in your lower right abdomen, but it often begins around the belly button and then moves to the right side. Pain increases as the organ swells before becoming insufferable. 

It is most common in people between 10 and 30 years of age but it can happen to anyone. In fact, one in 1,000 Americans experience appendicitis during their lifetime (per Johns Hopkins). The standard course of treatment is to remove the appendix, which is a thin tube that is joined to the large intestine and helps with immunity. Of course, as many know, patients can live normally without it. 

Causes and symptoms of appendicitis

Appendicitis occurs when the inside of your appendix is blocked, but there are multiple potential causes of the blockage and the exact cause is not always clear. Potential causes include viral or bacterial infections, as well as parasites in your digestive tract (per Medicine Net). 

Other causes include trapped stool in the intestinal tract and some tumors. When blocked, the appendix swells and causes first moderate, then intense pain. Blood flow stops and symptoms worsen. Without a steady stream of blood to the organ, the appendix begins to die and can burst or tear. When this happens, stool, mucus, and infection can leak into the stomach causing peritonitis, a very serious infection that can cause death.

When your appendix gets infected, it can rupture if not treated. After experiencing symptoms, a rupture can occur with 48 to 72 hours, per the National Health Society, making it a real medical emergency. If you are experiencing pain in this area that persists, you should seek medical treatment immediately to prevent a life-threatening infection. While not every stomach ache is the result of appendicitis, the condition is common enough to warrant concern if you are feeling unwell in that area of the body. Be informed and be safe. 

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