The appendix, a small fingerlike pouch about 3 ½ inches long, extends from the end of the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Appendicitis refers to the condition in which the appendix becomes infected and inflamed. Appendicitis symptoms in women are, in general, the same as for men. The exception is pregnant women, who may not experience some of the normal symptoms. Appendicitis usually requires surgery to remove the infected appendix.
Appendicitis is more common in women between the ages of 10 and 30, but it can occur at any age. It is important that symptoms not be ignored because if appendicitis is left untreated, serious complications can develop. The appendix will eventually burst and the infectious pus will spill out into the abdominal cavity, causing inflammation of its lining. This condition, called peritonitis, can be fatal unless it is treated quickly and aggressively.
The first symptoms of appendicitis in women are usually dull pain and discomfort around the navel area. The pain eventually moves down the right side of the abdomen and finally settles in the area around the appendix, typically in the lower right abdomen. However, the exact location of the appendix varies from person to person, so the location of appendicitis pain can also vary. The abdominal pain usually worsens over a period of 6 to12 hours.
Other symptoms of appendicitis may appear after the pelvic pain begins. These signs include vomiting, nausea, no appetite, abdominal swelling and a low grade fever. Symptoms may also include constipation, inability to pass gas and diarrhea. The area in which the pain settles may be tender to the touch and jarring movements such as coughing or walking may make the pain worse.
Causes of Appendicitis
The cause of appendicitis is sometimes not clear and there is no medical evidence to indicate that it can be prevented. It may be caused by an obstruction of some kind such as hardened fecal matter or food waste. It can also occur as the result of a previous infection or inflammation. In either case, bacteria can rapidly spread into the area and cause inflammation of the appendix. A cancerous obstruction can also cause appendicitis.
Appendicitis Symptoms in Pregnant Women
Appendicitis is more difficult to diagnose during pregnancy because many of its symptoms, like abdominal pain in women are also associated with gestation. In particular, pregnant women may not experience the pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. As a result, any abdominal pain experienced during pregnancy should be considered a possible symptom of appendicitis. Appendicitis can become serious very quickly and treatment is much easier if the appendix has not ruptured.