Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, and requires surgery.
The appendix is a tube-shaped piece of tissue, the size of a finger, that connects to the large intestine at the lower right side of the abdomen. The inside of the appendix forms a pouch that opens to the large intestine.
Appendicitis can happen when the opening of the appendix to the large intestine gets blocked. Blockage can be due to hard rock-like stool (called a fecolith), inflammation of lymph nodes in the intestines, or even parasites. Once the appendix is blocked, it becomes inflamed and bacteria can overgrow in it.
Appendicitis requires immediate medical attention. If the infected appendix is not removed, it can eventually burst or rupture as soon as 24 to 72 hours after symptoms start.
If you think someone in your family has appendicitis, call your doctor immediately and don't give the person any pain medication or anything to eat or drink unless instructed to by the doctor.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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