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"Can you have appendicitis without showing any symptoms?"
Three people on my dad's side of the family, including him have had appendicitis. I'm scared I will get it too. Can you have appendicitis without any symptoms?
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix which is a small appendage which is found in the right colon, close to the junction of the small and large intestine. It contains some lymphoid tissue within it, but generally does not appear to have any significant function in the human body. Appendicitis is not hereditary, so the fact that three people on your dad's side of the family have had it does not necessarily mean, that you will develop appendicitis. When people do develop appendicitis, this is not usually subtle. Patients typically present with abdominal pain around the belly button which after several hour moves down to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Fevers, nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite (along with the abdominal pain) are some associated symptoms. Appendicitis can be diagnosed by simple history and physical exam, but modern medicine has made it routine to obtain a CT scan of the abdomen to prove the presence of appendicitis. Bloodwork and labs may show an elevated white blood cell count, which is a marker of inflammation. In kids, an ultrasound of the abdomen may also help in the diagnosis of appendicitis. Appendicitis is treated (and cured) surgically by removing the appendix. This is usually done laparoscopically (small incisions in the skin that allow placement of a camera and some instruments inside the abdomen) or using the old fashioned open incision. Antibiotics are also given peri-operatively and may be continued postoperatively for a period of several days to weeks depending on the severity of the appendicitis. If you develop the above symptoms, I recommend heading over to the nearest Emergency Room to be evaluated by a physician and a general surgeon on call.
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