The peritoneum is a membrane that lines the abdomen’s inner wall and most abdominal organs. Peritonitis occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed, partially or entirely, due to an infection, trauma, or even a complication derived from appendicitis. Swelling in the peritoneum is caused, expressly, by the accumulation of fluids in the abdomen, such as blood or pus.
This acute process can be excruciating and gets complicated quickly, so it is essential to detect it early and treat it as soon as possible. At FastlyHeal, we explain the types of peritonitis, its symptoms, and treatment.
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Causes and types of peritonitis
Peritonitis usually occurs suddenly due to accumulated fluids in the abdomen, often due to quite advanced liver or kidney disease. Even so, there are other reasons that this condition can be classified into two large groups according to its causes:
- Spontaneous or primary peritonitis occurs when the peritoneum becomes inflamed due to an accumulation of fluid between the membrane and the abdominal organs, known as ascites, and the subsequent infection of the area. This usually occurs due to liver diseases such as cirrhosis, chronic viral hepatitis, or another related to alcoholism, or the kidneys, such as patients receiving peritoneal dialysis to treat kidney failure.
- Secondary peritonitis – This occurs when the tissue becomes inflamed from another condition. A perforation in an abdominal viscus, a hole in the appendix or colon, an ulcer in the stomach, or any other traumatic wound in the abdominal area can reach the peritoneum and inflame it.
Symptoms of peritonitis
The main symptom of this process is severe and sudden abdominal pain. Movement can aggravate this pain, and its location depends on the cause of the inflammation. When the infection progresses, the pain spreads to the entire abdomen. This often causes the patient to contract and twist, flexing the knees to prevent distension of the peritoneal cavity.
On the other hand, the following symptoms usually accompany pain:
- Vomiting and interruption of intestinal transit
- Tachycardia and chills
- Abdominal tenderness and firmness
- Joint pain
- Thirst and lack of appetite
To diagnose peritonitis, the doctor will perform a physical examination, palpating the area for inflammation, and will order various medical tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as an ascitic fluid collection, blood tests, abdominal X-ray, or CT scan.
Treatment of peritonitis
The treatment depends on the type of peritonitis, but usually, surgery is needed to drain fluids that cause inflammation in the peritoneum, and antibiotics to control infection occurs.
When the appropriate treatment is not applied or does not arrive in time, the disease can lead to dehydration and cause the malfunction of various organs, which sometimes leads to death.
The data reveal that the in-hospital mortality from primary peritonitis is 30%. On the other hand, it is 20% in cases of colon perforation and is less than 10% in stomach ulcers. Intense abdominal pain is the most considerable alarm in a matter of peritonitis, so you should not hesitate to go to the emergency room if this occurs.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.