Do certain foods cause appendicitis?

Appendicitis can occur at any age, but it is most common in infants and young children.

Certain foods can contribute to the development of appendicitis. For example, it is more common among infants who are allergic to cow’s milk protein.

Appendicitis can also develop from other digestive conditions, such as:

  • Intestinal blockages
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Perforated or inflamed appendix
  • Other abdominal problems

Some foods may not cause appendicitis but may contribute to the development of a condition that does. For example, infants who are allergic to cow’s milk protein can develop milk protein allergy, which can also lead to appendicitis. Infants who are allergic to cow’s milk protein may also have a milk protein allergy.

The following foods may increase your risk of developing appendicitis:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Corn
  • Coconut
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Fish oil
  • Gluten
  • Grains
  • Wheat

How is appendicitis diagnosed?

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms. They may also order blood tests to help diagnose you. A blood test will measure the levels of certain proteins known as white blood cells and red blood cells.

Your doctor will also order a CT scan, or computed tomography scan, to obtain more detailed images of your appendix. This test may be done if your symptoms are severe, you are pregnant, or you have a family history of appendicitis.

What are the treatment options for appendicitis?

There is no cure for appendicitis. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing complications.

Treatment for appendicitis depends on the severity of your symptoms. If your appendix is inflamed, it may require surgery.

Surgery

Your doctor will likely recommend surgery if you have signs of appendicitis. This may include:

  • Appendectomy to remove your appendix
  • Appendicectomy to remove your appendix and an area of your lower abdomen
  • Appendicolith removal

In some cases, your doctor may recommend a combination of therapies.

Medical therapy

If you have mild to moderate symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a medication. This medication can help relieve your pain.

Medications for appendicitis include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antibiotics

If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Antibiotics without an NSAID or corticosteroid
  • Pain medications

You may also receive a tube to empty your stomach or a nasogastric tube to drain your stomach.

You may also need to take medications intravenously (through a vein) to help control your pain.

Surgery may also be performed to remove your appendix.

What is the long-term outlook for people with appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a potentially serious condition that can lead to complications if left untreated.

If your appendix is removed, your doctor will prescribe an antibacterial medication to prevent an infection.

You may also need to take antibiotics for a short time after your surgery. You can take these for up to six weeks.

Complications include:

  • A fistula, or abnormal connection, between your appendix and your abdominal wall. This can cause a complication called fistula-in-ano, in which your abdomen becomes red, swollen, and tender.
  • A bowel obstruction, in which the stool from your bowels can block the opening of the appendix. This can cause the appendix to become inflamed and rupture.
  • A perforated appendix. This can cause a collection of pus to form inside your appendix.
  • An abscess. This can cause a collection of pus to form inside your abdomen.
  • Sepsis. This is an infection of the bloodstream.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Shock. This condition develops if you have severe shock and you have poor blood circulation.

Surgery is the most effective treatment for uncomplicated appendicitis.

Lifestyle changes

You should try to avoid eating foods that may cause pain and inflammation. You can do this by eliminating or limiting the following foods:

  • Red meat
  • Dairy products
  • High-fat foods
  • Processed foods
  • Refined sugar
  • Sugary beverages
  • Alcohol

You may need to take medication for the time you are healing.

You should also avoid these additional habits:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking nonprescription pain relievers
  • Taking nonprescription medications for colds and flu
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Eating large meals

When should I call my doctor?

See your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • A severe, long-lasting pain
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain with nausea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A lump in your abdomen
  • A change in your bowel movements
  • Pus draining from your stool
  • A fever over 101 F (38 C)
  • Red, swollen, and tender skin
  • A rash
  • A feeling of discomfort or pressure in your abdomen, groin, or breast

This is not a complete list of symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, call your doctor.

Where can I find more information?

If you have questions about appendicitis, speak with your doctor.

The American Association for the Study of the Liver has a patient education sheet on its website that can help you learn about appendicitis, including what to do if you think you have appendicitis.

The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases has a patient education sheet on its website that can help you learn about appendicitis, including what to do if you think you have appendicitus.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has a patient education sheet on its website that can help you understand how to prevent and manage symptoms of appendicitis.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has a patient education sheet on its website that can help you learn about appendicitis, including what to do if you think you have appendicititis.

Key takeaways

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. It can cause severe pain and inflammation.

Appendicitis is more common in children and young adults. It usually develops from inflammation of the appendix. If your appendix is inflamed, it may need to be removed.

The cause of appendicitis is unclear. However, some individuals have a genetic condition that makes them more likely to develop appendicitis.

You should see your doctor if you develop any signs of appendicitis. This includes:

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