The How the appendix works.

HOW THE APPENDIX WORKS
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How does the appendix work?



The appendix is perhaps one of the most confusing parts of the human body. This organ doesn’t really seem to have a clear function, yet if your appendix is to become infected or burst, the results could be disastrous. The appendix is also located at the top of the colon and is nestled between the small and large intestine. This leads some professionals to think that the appendix is a part of the digestive system. Yet, the lining of the appendix is also covered in lymphatic tissue, which produces antibodies. This leads other health professionals to think that it may actually be part of the immune system. So, just what is this confusing organ? What is the purpose of the appendix and how does it work?

Before you can find out how the appendix works, and the damaging results it can have when it doesn’t, you first have to understand a few basic facts about the organ. Because the appendix has an outer layer of muscle, it is considered to be a bodily organ. However, because the appendix really doesn’t do much within the body, these muscles are much weaker than the muscles that surround other important organs, such as the heart or the lungs. The appendix is also only three or four inches long, and it’s a narrow tube that is closed at both ends but has an opening in its middle. The place where it’s located, at the top of the colon, is known as the cecum. And something else that’s known about the appendix, and that only makes it that much more confusing, is the fact that it produces and secretes a small amount of mucus.

Some scientists believe that we really have no need for the appendix, and that we shouldn’t even have one. These scientists theorize that the appendix was part of an ancient digestion system in some of the very earliest civilizations. This school of thought believes that the appendix was used for digesting roughage such as tough leaves and bark. But is that true? And if so, why are humans still being born with this useless organ today? There’s no doubt that whenever you seem to have an answer for the appendix, it only brings more questions. But what are some of the concrete facts that we already know about the appendix, and the conditions it can cause?

Appendicitis is one condition that the appendix can cause, and it’s the most common. Appendicitis occurs when a blockage has occurred within the appendix. This blockage occurs when something enters the appendix and closes both ends off. This can be due to impacted fecal matter or a condition called lymphoid hyperplasia. This condition can be caused by many different factors including Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, mononucleosis, measles, or gastrointestinal infections. Lymphoid hyperplasia causes too many cells to be created in the appendix. And while these cells are normal, the abundance of them causes the appendix to be blocked, and then the appendix becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes the blood flow to the organ to be blocked off, and then the tissue of the appendix begins to deteriorate and die. Once this happens, the appendix will rupture and burst.

The time between when the appendix starts to become inflamed and when it actually bursts isn’t long. In fact, it only takes about 72 hours. And if the appendix bursts while it’s still inside the body, the risk of complications greatly increases. This is why it’s so important that someone who thinks there might be something wrong with their appendix gets to a hospital immediately. The first sign that something may be wrong is a slight pain around the bellybutton area. This pain will increase as the inflammation increases and when that happens, the pain will start to move to the right, moving in the direction of the hip. Some other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, inflammation of the abdomen, back pain, and even constipation. If an appendix is to burst while it’s still inside the body, it will leak inflammatory fluids and other bacteria to the other parts of the system. Appendicitis is no doubt the most common problem that can occur with the appendix but, there are a few other things that can go wrong with it too.

One of the things that can go wrong is something that can go wrong in any part of the body, and that’s cancerous tumors. The tumors that can develop in the appendix are known as carcinoid tumors, and these can appear anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. These tumors, just like any others, can either be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not harmful and because they don’t do any damage, they are often left undiagnosed. Malignant carcinoid tumors however can be very dangerous and can spread throughout the system and even get into the bloodstream. These types of tumors can also cause carcinoid syndrome. This disease is very rare but causes an immense amount of damage throughout the body.

Another type of condition that can become present in the appendix is appendiceal carcinoma. This is a type of cancer that starts with a tumor in the appendix. As the tumor grows, it can block the appendix entirely, which will lead to appendicitis, just like any other type of blockage in the organ. This cancer can also spread to other parts of the body, most often the stomach. This cancer is also left untreated for some time because the symptoms mimic those of appendicitis. However, this type of cancer is also quite rare.

There are other types of tumors that can grow and block the appendix. Another type of these cancers are adenomas. These tumors are usually benign but they can still become quite dangerous because they too can block the appendix, resulting in appendicitis. These tumors don’t only appear in the appendix though. They can appear on any glandular part of the body, such as the pituitary gland or the thyroid. And because they grow on glandular areas, they also secrete hormones which can complicate matters even further.

Another type of disease that can be caused by the appendix is diverticular disease. This disease is also rare, but if it occurs, it’s most likely to do so in people over the age of 30. These are also the people who are less likely to suffer from appendicitis because appendicitis is most commonly found in those who are under 30. The pain from diverticular disease is not constant though and because it tends to come and go, patients can often put off seeking treatment for it until the pain becomes too much to bear. Unfortunately, by the time that the pain becomes this intense, it’s due to appendicitis and the appendix then needs to be removed.

So, can the appendix do anything else except cause problems? There’s no doubt that the appendix can cause quite a few problems. And health care professionals and researchers are still at odds about whether or not the appendix really does have any real function at all. It is known that if you remove the appendix from the body, there are likely to be no significant consequences. This would give reason to believe that the appendix really doesn’t have a purpose, and that it is a vestigial organ. This means that it’s an organ that the human race used to need and depend on but, that we no longer need and is simply something that hasn’t yet evolved out of our systems. Others though think that the appendix does have a function, and that that function works to help the immune system.

But, because the appendix doesn’t have a clear function, if one at all, and because people can have their appendix removed with no consequence, some have wondered whether or not removing a healthy appendix is a good preventative measure to make sure that none of the other serious health problems that can arise ever do. This is where the story about astronauts having their appendixes removed so that they don’t run into a major problem while in orbit came into play. The myth about astronauts having their appendixes removed is just that – a myth. But it has caused people to wonder about the validity of removing appendixes as preventative medicine, and whether it’s worthwhile or not.

Truthfully, elective appendectomies are not recommended. While the appendix may not have a function, it also could and scientists just haven’t been able to unearth it yet. But it does secrete mucus, and it is also thought that it could have a role in the immune system. Couple this fact with the fact that only about seven percent of the entire world’s population will need to get their appendixes taken out, and the odds are relatively low that it could happen to any one person. Elective surgeries are also not often recommended as a person could suffer more from the side effects of their surgery than they ever would have from simply having their appendix still inside of them. And, health insurance is also most likely not to cover an elective surgery to have an appendix removed. However, if a person suffers from appendicitis and needs to have theirs taken out, it’s usually a procedure that will be covered by health insurance because it is a very common procedure.

All in all, the appendix may not be very useful and it could actually cause more harm than good. Those who think that the appendix is a vestigial organ believe that there will be a day when humans simply won’t be born with them, because we will have evolved further and no longer need that organ that’s only good for breaking down tough tree bark and roughage. Others though believe that the appendix does have a function in our bodies, even if we don’t know what it is.


The Appendix

the appendix.

 How the appendix works.