Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
A burst appendix is very painful and can lead to serious complications, including death. The appendix is a small organ of the human digestive system and modern medicine still hasn't figured out what its function is. What is known that a burst appendix is bad news. Here is what you should know about a burst appendix.
A burst appendix can be fatal if it is not attended to quickly. Although the exact causes of a burst appendix are not completely understood it seems that the appendix will become blocked, perhaps by stool and eventually become inflamed and rupture. When the appendix bursts it leaks bacteria from the intestines into the abdominal cavity. This can cause the formation of an abscess or a condition known as peritonitis, which is a serious infection of the abdominal cavity. Before the advent of modern antibiotics this condition often resulted in death. Now the majority of people that have their appendix survive with proper treatment.
A burst appendix will be preceded by extreme abdominal pain that often starts near the belly button and then migrates to the lower right portion of the abdomen. You will experience nausea and possibly vomit. If you were to get up and attempt to walk with these symptoms the pain would begin to get even worse. If the appendix does burst the pain will lessen but you will then get a high fever, your abdominal region will swell up and your heart rate will get faster.
Although the appendix of any person can rupture and burst it happens mostly to those individuals between the ages of 10 and 30. If you do suspect that you have a burst appendix then you need to seek immediate medical attention. The quicker the situation is looked at the better your chances of a full recovery are.
If you feel you may have a possible problem with your appendix then your doctor will first rule out certain scenarios that imitate this condition; kidney stones are one such scenario. Blood tests can eliminate other possibilities and your physician will look for a high white cell count, indicative of a bad infection in the body. CAT scans can help to see if the appendix is the culprit. Surgery to remove the appendix, which you can do just fine without, will be performed if it is appendicitis and if the appendix bursts the abdominal cavity will be cleaned out as thoroughly as possible and you will receive IV antibiotics and a stay in the hospital until you recover.
The most famous death from a burst appendix was that of Harry Houdini on October 31, 1926. Houdini was thought by many to have died from the result of being unable to escape his Water Torture Cell as depicted in films but in truth he perished from peritonitis. He had allowed a college student to strike him in the stomach, as he often boasted he could tighten his stomach muscles and not feel the pain from such blows. Contrary to popular belief, the punches could not have caused his appendicitis. He most likely was already starting to suffer from the conditions. What the punches did do was convince him that they were to blame for his pain and he continued on with a scheduled show before going to the hospital. By then it was too late. There were no antibiotics back then to save his life and he died on Halloween a few days later from the massive infection from his burst appendix.
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images