What is Peritonitis?

by Shaun Damon

Inflammation of the peritoneum is called peritonitis. It affects the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs. It is caused by the collection of body fluids, blood, or pus in the abdomen, and it is triggered due to bacterial or fungal infection in the membrane.

Types and Causes

There are two types of peritonitis. Primary peritonitis is caused due to infection in the blood and lymph nodes related to the peritoneum; it is rare. The second type of peritonitis, which is more common, is known as secondary peritonitis. This occurs when the infection affects the peritoneum from the gastrointestinal tract. Both the types of peritoneum are to be taken seriously as they can be life threatening if treatment is not given immediately.

The causes for primary peritoneum are set of f by liver disease, wherein fluid builds up in the abdomen creating a medium for the bacteria to grow. In secondary peritonitis, bacteria, bile or enzymes affect the peritoneum through a hole or tear in the gastrointestinal tracts. The tears can be caused due to pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, a ruptured appendix, Crohn’s disease, or diverculitis.

Signs and Symptoms

Fever and chills are the common symptoms of peritonitis. Fluid in the abdomen, excessive fatigue, loss of appetite, inability to pass stool or gas, less urine output, shortness of breath, and racing heartbeat are other signs. The abdomen may become tender and painful.
The risk factors that can trigger primary peritonitis are cirrhosis, a weakened immune system, pelvic inflammatory disease, appendicitis, torn or twisted intestine, injury caused by an operation, peritoneal dialysis, or trauma.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis for peritonitis is confirmed by examining the abdomen and checking for swelling and tenderness, which is a sign of fluid collected in the area. The procedures that might be done to confirm the condition include blood tests, CT scans, and X- rays.

To prevent peritonitis, it is important to get medical assistance at the earliest.

The treatment for peritonitis needs hospitalization as there could be the need for surgery to remove the source of infection, like an inflamed appendix, or repair the tear in the gastrointestinal tract. Antibiotics are prescribed to control infection. Complementary treatment is given to recover from peritonitis.

In addition to the treatment, dietary habits need to be modified. A diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and calcium and uses healthy oils like olive oil or vegetable oil is recommended. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and refined foods, and drink plenty of water. Supplements including magnesium, zinc, selenium and calcium may be added after consultation with a doctor.

Reference
  1. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/peritonitis-000127.htm
  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001335.htm

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