What Could You Do to Keep the Human Appendix Healthy?

Your appendix is a small organ that is attached to the right side of your large intestine. Most of the time, the appendix does not cause any problems, but occasionally it gets blocked with feces or becomes infected and inflamed. This inflammation is called appendicitis, and constitutes a medical emergency. You may be able to keep your appendix healthy with your diet, but if it does become inflamed, knowing what to do can save your health and your life.

A green salad on a white plate. (Image: harmoony/iStock/Getty Images)

Diet

While there is no surefire way to prevent appendicitis, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that eating fresh or frozen green vegetables and tomatoes may reduce your risk of developing the condition. Vegetables in the cruciferous family, such as cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, seem to be the most effective in preventing an attack, along with peas and beans. Processed tomato products, such as tomato sauce, may also reduce your risk.

Know Symptoms

One of the ways you can prevent serious complications if your appendix does become inflamed is to know the symptoms of appendicitis. The condition often starts with moderate-to-severe pain around the navel, which may localize to the lower right quadrant of the abdomen. You may also have a low-grade fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and a loss of appetite. You also may experience a frequent need to urinate. Babies and small children may have a bloated or swollen abdomen.

Get Immediate Treatment

If you or your child has the symptoms of appendicitis, it is crucial that you go to the emergency room or to see your doctor immediately. An infected appendix can burst within 24 hours, and this complication raises the risk of serious infection and death. The treatment for appendicitis is the surgical removal of the appendix. You will probably also be given antibiotics to prevent infection, and you may need to spend a few days in the hospital after your surgery.

Post-Op

After your appendix is removed, you should restrict your activities for the time that it takes you to heal. This can help prevent complications and will allow you to recover more quickly. If you had your appendix removed laparoscopically, you may heal faster than if you had open abdominal surgery or if your appendix burst before it could be removed. Your doctor will let you know when you can resume your regular activities. If you were given antibiotics, be sure to finish the full course even if you are feeling better. Report any severe pain or pain that gets worse instead of better to your doctor.

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