Possible Appendicitis: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Appendicitis and location of appendix

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 call 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 call line 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 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have new, severe belly pain and feel weak.

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

  • You have belly pain below your belly button on the right side of your belly.
  • You have belly pain that gets worse when you move, walk, or cough.
  • Your belly pain does not get better after a few days.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You are sick to your stomach or can't keep fluids down.
  • You have trouble passing gas or stools.
  • Your belly is bloated or swollen.

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

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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