Health Tips for Seniors

Diagnosing Appendicitis

Appendicitis may be most difficult to diagnose, even for the expert physician, and no one should attempt to make this diagnosis on himself, not even a doctor. Everyone, however, should include some information about a typical appendicitis picture, because over 2,000 deaths a year in the U. S. might be prevented if only the possibility of appendicitis were considered in time.

The usual story of appendicitis might begin with vague nausea, progressing gradually to vomiting. Moderate pain is felt all over the abdomen at first but it gradually localizes low in the right side. A soreness in the appendical region along with fever and possible bloating help to complete the picture. The whole process may begin and grow to obvious proportions in six to twenty-four hours.

In contrast to this usual story of appendicitis, is the atypical course of the disease in later years. The patient with a severe attack of appendicitis, may appear to be only slightly ill for the first several days. Nausea, if present, frequently does not progress to vomiting. Pain in the abdomen might be only a slight discomfort, and may not localize into the lower right side of the abdomen. Temperature usually is not elevated in proportion to the seriousness of the disease.

This picture might easily be more complicated by the presence of other chronic disease symptoms, such as constipation, arteriosclerosis or gall bladder disease. This explanation helps us to understand why appendicitis in later life is more dangerous, and that after the age of fifty, abdominal pain should not be “taken like a man,” but handled more wisely by calling the family physician.

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