A Fatal Organ with No Use

By Mansi Arora

Appendicitis is caused by an organ that has no use, known as the appendix. An appendix is a tube-shaped sac attached to an opening in the lower end of the large intestine of humans and animals, extending 3.5 inches from the intestine.


Appendicitis is caused when the inside of the appendix is blocked. Bacteria multiply in the blocked appendix, causing pus, soreness, and swelling. Virus and foreign bacteria in the digestive system or the presence of a tumor can also infect the appendix. A build-up of hardened stool could be another factor that contributes to appendicitis. If the pain is severe and is not treated promptly, the appendix can rupture.

One of the most common symptoms of appendicitis is severe abdominal pain. In the United States (US) approximately 250,000 cases, or 7% of the US population, are reported annually. It can occur at any age, but the age group of most of the people who develop appendicitis is between 10 and 30 years.

Some of the most common symptoms:

  • The earliest symptom is an ache around the belly button that gradually moves down to the lower right side of the belly button

  • Urination pain

  • Constipation

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Mild fever between 100 to 102 degrees

  • Flatulence i.e. excessive gas or difficulty passing gas.

Can appendicitis kill you? Yes, a perforated appendix can kill you. The overall mortality rate in the US due to the disease ranges from 0.2 to 0.8% annually. In 2018, the mortality rate in Canada stands at 0.1%. With significant inflammation, the appendix can burst. When it bursts, it releases pus and bacteria into the abdomen, causing peritonitis, which can be fatal, if not treated promptly. Peritonitis is the inflammation of the peritoneum, a membrane that lines the inner walls of the abdomen organs such as the stomach and liver.

There are several tests that the doctor can use to detect appendicitis, but he or she will typically conduct a physical exam on the lower right part of the abdomen. If required, the doctor will request more tests to be conducted.

The most common tests as follows:

  • White blood count – A sample of blood will be taken and sent to the lab for analysis.

  • Urinalysis – Examination of the white and red blood cells and bacteria in the urine.

  • Abdominal imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-ray.

How can you treat appendicitis?

For mild symptoms, the doctor will give you antibiotics and advise monitoring your health regularly. Should you recover, no surgery is required. Contrastingly, if you do not recover, then a surgery is required. Prior to the surgery, antibiotics are given to the patient. An affected appendix can be treated and removed through a surgery called appendectomy. Surgery is also recommended for certain appendicitis patients with an intact appendix that cannot be treated with antibiotics. This type of surgery prevents the spread of bacteria.

If you have any appendicitis symptoms, it is always best to get yourself checked immediately!