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The Terrorizing Appendix

paoli.roman's picture

 The Terrorizing Appendix

            It happened to my mom, to one of my good friends, and to Laura’s grandma! Appendicitis is such on odd bodily organ that has no function and if perturbed in an incorrect manner can cause detrimental problems within the body. Appendicitis is very dangerous and can have mortal results.  I am mortified that it might happen to me; this paper will give me the incentive to sit down and actually do some research pertaining to the appendix. In this essay I will attempt to answer the following questions by going through material provided through the World Wide Web:  What is the appendix? Why and how does appendicitis occur? What types of treatments are there? I will also explore the effects on human anatomy.

            The appendix is located in the lower-middle section of the stomach area of the body (I always get confused where it is!). In women it is particularly close to their ovaries. More specifically the appendix is a small extension, or what seems to be an extension, of the large intestine’s cecum. The cecum “marks the beginning of the large intestine and is basically a big pouch that receives waste material from the small intestine.” (1)  It appears to be a tiny worm attached to the organ; and this is where it’s scientific term, Vermiform (or “worm-shaped”) appendix, originates from. The length of the appendix can be as long as 10 cm or 3 to 4 inches. The origins of the appendix have been evaluated to be a significant bodily organ for our primitive ancestors. Our ancestor’s diets consisted of many raw material foods; the appendix would then accumulate all of the bacteria and dispose of it later during the digestive process. Now since humans have evolved and are able to have a healthier and safer diet our appendix does not have much use thus during evolution it shrank and now individuals can survive without it since scientists have not found a specific function or purpose that it has within the body. 

Then how come humans still have the appendix as a part of their digestive tract and why can it be dangerous? If the appendix if exposed to bacteria in the immediate area or simple irritation or if “the appendix becomes blocked by stool or cancer” it becomes inflamed and can burst releasing harmful fluids to the rest of the abdomen area. (4)  The person who has appendicitis must immediately be treated for surgical removal of the appendix. This individual might go through certain symptoms which can vary such as: “Dull pain near the navel or the upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen, back, or rectum (this is usually the first sign), loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting soon after abdominal pain begins, fever of 99° F to 102° F, inability to pass gas, painful urination, vomiting that precedes the abdominal pain, severe cramps, constipation or diarrhea with gas. (4)

To diagnose appendicitis the doctor would go through a series of observations. Although sometimes it could be difficult to diagnose appendicitis and confuse it for another abdominal pain, injury, or disease; doctors usually take the following measures to detect as appendicitis. An “abdominal exam to detect inflammation, urine test to rule out a urinary tract infection, rectal exam, blood test to see if your body is fighting infection, CT scans and/or ultrasound.” (4) Once the pain has been diagnosed as appendicitis the physician undergoes the surgery known as appendectomy which is the complete removal of the appendix. Sometime doctors might have to remove any type of fluid caused by the inflammation making the surgery somewhat more difficult to manage. Once the surgery is over the patient is advised to rest and take antibiotics to prevent any sort of infection in the area of the surgery. If there are unusual feelings, sensations, or bodily fluids in the area of surgery the patient must contact their physician immediately because something might have gone wrong in the area of the appendix.

Are there any treatments for appendicitis or a healthy appendix? Besides surgery, if one experiences the above symptoms and is diagnosed with appendicitis, there are no specific remedies or ways to avoid having appendicitis. It is suggested that one should have a diet that is not high in fiber since it might irritate the appendix and cause an inflammation. Also if a person can detect the symptoms from other regular bodily occurrences then the chances of having fatal consequences from appendicitis will lessen. Another way, as previously mentioned, is to maintain a healthy diet and exercise. If one “eat[s] massive quantities of green leafy vegetables, avoid[s] refined and fried foods, limit [s] intake of cooked animal proteins to one serving per day, [and] If appendicitis is suspected, do not use laxatives and avoid using a heating pad.” (3)




1.    Myers, Donna. "Appendix." 8/4/2007. Medical Review Board, Web. 3 Nov 2009. <>.


2.    Bermosa, Norbert. "Amazing Facts About the Human Body." Purple Slinky. Triond, 26/4/2008. Web. 5 Nov 2009. <>.


3.    Mangano , Frank. "A Safe, Natural Regimen to Treat & Help Prevent Appendicitis." Natural Health on the WEb. Mangano Publisshing Corporation, Web. 4 Nov 2009. <>.


4.    Mohan, Venkat. "Appendicitis." WebMD. 13/9/2008. Clevland Clinic, Web. 3 Nov 2009. <>.


5.      "Vermiform Appendix." Wikipedia. 30/10/2009. Wikimedia, Web. 8 Nov 2009. <>.


Paul Grobstein's picture

the appendix: balancing advantages and disadvantages

"scientists have not found a specific function or purpose that it has within the body"

Which is to say it doesn't have a "specific function or purpose" for some people, living under some environmental/cultural conditions?  But might for others, under other conditions?  Interesting to think of the appendix not only in the context of biological/cultural evolution but also in terms of the balance of advantages and disadvantages in an unpredictable world.  Its interesting that medicine has backed off routine removal of the appendix.  And of tonsils.