Are you experiencing a sudden pain in your lower abdomen? Don’t just ignore it as part and parcel of pregnancy. It can be a sign of appendicitis.
Pregnancy comes with achy joints and painful muscles. It is very easy to overlook small niggles of pain when you are pregnant. But getting an inflamed appendix during pregnancy is a very real risk – rare but real. Don’t worry! Know more about appendicitis in pregnancy, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and post-surgical care.
What is Appendicitis?
Nobody knows for sure why the appendix exists, other than to cause pain! Some believe it to be a vestigial organ used by our ancestors to digest plants. While recent studies indicate that the appendix might be home to good bacteria, the ones that aid healthy digestion.
The appendix exists peacefully, almost invisible, on the right side of the abdomen, attached to the colon. But its existence becomes a matter of life and death when it becomes inflamed. When the appendix becomes inflamed, filled with pus, the condition is called appendicitis.
Causes Of Appendicitis:
Pregnant or not, appendicitis can strike anyone, anytime. Here are the major causes of appendicitis:
1. Infection: A stomach infection can make its way to the appendix, leading to appendicitis.
2. Obstruction: Sometimes, a hard piece of stool can get stuck in the appendix. It can lead to inflammation and infection.
5 Symptoms Of Appendicitis During Pregnancy:
Appendicitis during pregnancy is rare, but it happens. Are you pregnant and wondering if the abdominal pain you are experiencing might be appendicitis? Check the symptoms list below to get a clearer picture:
1. Abdominal Pain:
The most common way to recognize appendicitis during pregnancy is abdominal pain. Check if the pain you are experiencing is in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Is the pain getting worse? If yes, you need to see your doctor. Appendicitis pain builds up – starting light and becoming unbearable with time. Another classic symptom of appendicitis is that the pain becomes worse when pressure is applied over the area.
2. Vaginal Bleeding:
Bleeding during pregnancy is scary. But if the bleeding is accompanied with intense right side abdominal pain, rush to the doctor. Light or heavy – any kind of vaginal bleeding along with pain during pregnancy requires medical attention.
[ Read : Vaginal Bleeding During Pregnancy ]
3. Nausea and Vomiting:
Both nausea and vomiting are common pregnancy symptoms. But if you experience them along with right side abdominal pain, they might indicate appendicitis.
[ Read : Vomiting During Pregnancy ]
4. High Fever:
Appendicitis is almost always accompanied with high fever. If you have a high fever that refuses to ease, you should call your doctor.
Sometimes, appendicitis can lead to abdominal swelling. It may not be visible in women who are farther along their pregnancy though.
Diagnosing Appendicitis While Pregnant:
The symptoms just indicate a problem. To understand the problem, you need to see your doctor. If your doctor suspects an appendicitis, she will order an ultrasound. She may also ask for some blood test. But an ultrasound test is the best method to confirm appendicitis. The ultrasound will also give your doctor an idea on how to treat you.
Treating Appendicitis During Pregnancy:
The primary concern while treating appendicitis during pregnancy is to ensure the well-being of both mother and child. That is why it is important to diagnose appendicitis as soon as possible. Delay can even lead to fetal loss. This risk increases manifold during the third trimester.
Once appendicitis is diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe either of the following two treatment plans:
If the appendicitis is mildly inflamed and your doctor does not apprehend an immediate danger from it, she may prescribe a dose of antibiotics. This will be given intravenously for better results.
[ Read : Safe Antibiotics During Pregnancy ]
If your appendix is severely inflamed or your doctor suspects perforation of the appendix, surgery will be the only way out. If you are in your first or second trimester, a laparoscopic surgery will suffice. But if you are in your third trimester, you may need a larger incision.
After The Surgery:
After the surgery, you may need to take it easy for some time. If you have crossed the 24-week mark, your doctor will monitor your baby’s response to the surgery. About 80% women who undergo appendicitis surgery experience preterm contractions. But don’t worry! Most women do not go into premature labor because of these contractions. They successfully go on to carry their pregnancy to term and deliver a healthy baby. But for 5-14% women, appendicitis can lead to premature labor and birth.
[ Read : Contractions During Pregnancy ]
Appendicitis is a painful condition. And if you are pregnant, appendicitis can be reason enough to panic. But the numbers are on your side! The chances of anything going wrong are rather slim. So, if you suspect appendicitis, head to the doctor. Timely medical intervention can make all the difference.
Have you experienced appendicitis? What was the treatment plan followed to treat it? Share with us in the comments section below!
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