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Possible Appendicitis: Care Instructions

Appendicitis and location of appendix

Your Care Instructions

Your doctor thinks you may have appendicitis. This means that your appendix may be infected. The appendix is a small sac that is shaped like a finger. It's attached to your large intestine.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if a person has appendicitis. It is especially hard to tell in children, pregnant women, and older adults. If your doctor thinks it's possible that you have appendicitis, he or she may want to order more tests. Or your doctor may want to wait to see if your symptoms change.

Your doctor thinks it's okay for you to go home right now. But you will need to watch for symptoms of appendicitis at home. If your symptoms continue or get worse, it's important to call your doctor or nurse advice line or get medical care right away. Appendicitis can get serious very quickly. The main treatment is surgery to remove your appendix.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not eat or drink, unless your doctor says it is okay. If you need surgery, it's best to have an empty stomach. If you're thirsty, you can rinse your mouth with water. Or you can suck on hard candy.
  • Do not take laxatives. If you have appendicitis, they can make the appendix burst.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about taking medicines. Your doctor may tell you not to take antibiotics or pain pills. These medicines can make it harder to tell if you have appendicitis.
  • Watch for symptoms of appendicitis. See the When should you call for help section below. It is very important to follow your doctor's instructions about getting treatment if you have these symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that becomes focused on one area of your belly.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You are vomiting.
  • You have a fever.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.