What is Appendicitis and What Causes It?

Appendicitis is the inflammation of a small portion of the large intestine. It's a common issue at any age that is resolved with emergency surgery.
What is Appendicitis and What Causes It?

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Inflammation of the appendix is a very frequent infirmity at any age. Surgical intervention is usually necessary to remove this little segment that “sticks out” from the large intestine. It is also very close to the small intestine. Keep reading to learn more about this condition: what is appendicitis and why does it occur?

What is appendicitis and what does the appendix do?

But what is appendicitis? It is when the appendix becomes inflamed for unknown reasons. Some relate this inflammation with a poor diet or with tension and stress. However, there is no scientific proof of this.

This pathology is dangerous because, if not treated in time, it can perforate the appendix. This causes part of the intestinal content to leak out into the body.

This condition is called peritonitis (U.S. National Library of Medicine) and it’s quite serious because it can cause severe infection and even death. If women get peritonitis, it can infect her ovaries and Fallopian tubes and even cause infertility.


What is appendicitis and what does the appendix do?

How to detect an inflamed appendix

There are some characteristic symptoms and others that are common with other diseases.

Therefore, it is necessary to pay close attention in order to avoid a misdiagnosis. This could make the situation worse and lead to peritonitis. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Strong and sudden pain the lower right abdomen or around the belly button.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Mild fever. 

It is not always easy to detect the symptoms of appendicitis because they are often confused with the first signs of flu or a liver attack.

Also, the opposite can occur: inflammation is diagnosed in the appendix, an operation is performed but it turns out not to be appendicitis.

We recommend you read:

How to Reduce a Fever Naturally

A diagram of where appendicitis occurs.

Lifestyle recommendations to help avoid problems with the appendix

Whatever the cause of appendicitis, healthy habits, especially those that relate to your gut, can help you improve your overall health and reduce risk of illness and disease

Here are some tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle:

Reduce stress

Emotional rest is very important because anxiety, stress, and nerves bring negative consequences to our health. This study from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (Mexico) emphasizes the importance of caring for your mental health to avoid physical problems. Many illnesses and conditions are avoidable if you reduce your stress levels.

Try not to live under pressure, angry, worried, unsatisfied or anxious about the future. Give yourself time to do the things you like and to “fill your soul” by reading a book, taking a nap, playing with your children or going for a walk in the park.


A balanced diet can prevent appendicitis

Maintaining a balanced diet is essential to feeling well and ensuring that your intestine is also in good health.

Try to eat more times during the day, but in less quantity, instead of eating a lot only twice a day.

Avoid animal fats, processed meats, dairy products, sugar, and refined flours.

Instead, choose whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes and dried fruits and nuts. The fiber content in these foods will help regulate your digestion and bowel movements.


Play sports two or three times a week to destress. It will also help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid being sedentary. According to this study from the Austral University of Chile, a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Walk, ride a bike, run, swim, dance, jump. Whatever you want, but keep your body moving.

After the operation, then what?

When you have an operation for appendicitis or peritonitis, it is important that you know that for some time you will have to

Foods that you should avoid

  • Fatty foods
  • Dairy
  • Red meat
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy foods
  • Strong spices

It’s possible that after the operation, you’ll have low tolerance for certain foods.

Do not do physically intense work, rest as much as possible, go for short and slow walks and avoid stress, all as a part of your recovery.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.