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A Real Pain in the Side

The signs of appendicitis

For a small organ that has no known function in the body, the appendix can cause a lot of trouble, especially for teen-age males or people with a family history of appendicitis.

While there's no way to prevent the inflammation of appendicitis, the causes of the problem are well known, says the Northern Nevada Medical Center. It happens when something -- a piece of food, dried stool or scar tissue -- becomes trapped in the appendix, which is attached to the intestines. The appendix continues to manufacture mucus that swells and irritates the organ. The pressure can build and rupture the appendix.

Symptoms include pain around the belly button that spreads to the right side, loss of appetite, vomiting, swelling of the stomach, slight fever and an abdomen that feels hard and is sensitive to touch.

Symptoms worsen if the organ ruptures.

If you have symptoms, see a doctor immediately. The only cure for appendicitis is immediate surgery to remove the organ.

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