What is peritonitis?

Inflammation of the peritoneum or abdomen. This is the tissue that covers the inner surface of the abdominal wall and envelops and supports most of the abdominal organs. It is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.

If left untreated, the disease can spread rapidly through the bloodstream to other organs and result in multiple organ failure and death.

So if any of the symptoms of peritonitis appear, the most common being severe abdominal pain, it is especially important to seek immediate medical attention and begin emergency treatment. This can prevent potentially fatal complications.

What are the symptoms?

The peritoneum plays an important role in protecting the organs in the intestines and protects their sensitive surface from infection and inflammation.

When the peritoneum becomes inflamed, symptoms can be severe and painful. In the following lines, we will consider in more detail the symptoms and consequences of peritonitis.

One of the first symptoms of peritonitis, as you already mentioned, is loss of appetite. Patients often lose interest in food and begin to experience dull, unpleasant abdominal pain.

However, this pain quickly becomes constant and severe, increasing with every movement. The pain can be really intense and cause considerable suffering.

Another important symptom is a painful and swollen abdomen. In peritonitis, inflammation of the peritoneum causes swelling and a feeling of fullness in the abdominal cavity.

This swollen abdomen is often accompanied by sounds and fever. Inflammation and swelling can be disturbed by touch and pressure on the abdomen.

Severe pain and inflammation can lead to fever. It is often associated with infection and is the body’s response to bacterial inflammation. Fever can be high and is considered a serious symptom in peritonitis.

One of the dangerous consequences of peritonitis is the presence of fluid in the abdominal cavity. This is often the result of infection and inflammation that causes fluid to leak from vessels and organs into the abdomen. This fluid may contain infectious organisms and toxins, further complicating the condition.

Other symptoms are associated with peritonitis, such as intense thirst, vomiting and difficulty urinating. Severe pain and stress on the abdominal organs can cause unregulated vomiting and difficulty urinating. Patients with peritonitis often have a strong desire for water, which may be due to fever and dehydration.

Difficult defecation and intestinal obstruction are also symptoms that can be associated with peritonitis.

Inflammation and swelling in the abdomen can lead to problems with the passage of the intestines and cause difficulty in defecation. This is a serious symptom that requires immediate medical attention.

Patients who experience similar symptoms should consult a doctor immediately, as peritonitis can be fatal, and early diagnosis and treatment are essential to save the patient’s life.

What are the causes of peritonitis?

There are two main types of peritonitis – primary spontaneous – infection develops in the peritoneum and secondary – develops from trauma or infection in the abdominal cavity such as infectious organisms also cause inflammation of the peritoneum.

Death rates for peritonitis depend on many factors, but can be over 50% when those affected also have cirrhosis. With secondary peritonitis, deaths are about 10%.

The most common risk factors for primary spontaneous peritonitis are:

  • Liver disease, most often with cirrhosis – causes accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity /ascites/, which can become infected.
  • Kidney failure , in which absent kidney function is replaced by peritoneal dialysis. The procedure consists of inserting a catheter into the peritoneum to remove waste products in the blood. In this case, the higher risk of peritonitis is associated with the possibility of accidental contamination of the peritoneum when the catheter is inserted or removed.

Common causes of secondary peritonitis are:< /p>

  • Rupture of the appendix or stomach ulcer;
  • Diseases of the digestive system such as Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis;
  • Pancreatitis;
  • Perforations of the stomach, intestines, gall bladder or appendix;
  • Surgical interventions most often when they are on organs in the abdominal cavity;
  • Abdominal trauma such as a stab wound or gunshot wound;

Non-infectious causes of abdominal inflammation can be: bile, blood or foreign substances in the abdomen such as barium for example.

Treatment of peritonitis?

If a diagnosis of infection of the peritoneum is made, you will be immediately admitted for hospital treatment. Usually, treatment begins immediately with an intravenous infusion of antibiotics or antifungal medications.

Additional supportive treatment may be required if there are signs of developing sepsis as a complication of the infection.

It may consist of intravenous fluids and medication to maintain blood pressure.

If peritoneal dialysis is the cause of the infection of the peritoneum, then he may use therapy in which medication is injected directly into the abdomen.

This type of direct injection therapy has been shown to be more effective than injecting drugs intravenously. Until you cure the infection, you should use another method of dialysis such as hemodialysis.

In many cases emergency abdominal surgery is required, especially if the peritonitis is from diseases such as appendicitis, perforated stomach ulcer or diverticulitis.

During the surgical intervention, the infected tissue is removed and thus more serious damage to the serous membrane will be avoided.

During hospitalization, you will be monitored for signs of sepsis and septic shock, which in most cases require immediate transfer to an emergency department.

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