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Peritonitis Symptoms: What Most People Don’t Know About this Abdominal Condition

Peritonitis symptoms occur in those with inflamed peritoneum. The peritoneum is the thin membrane that lines the abdominal walls, covering the organs inside. The inflamed membrane is often caused by either a fungal or bacterial infection.

There actually are three types of peritonitis: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

peritonitis symptomsA primary infection is rarer and occurs in less than 1% of the total peritonitis cases.

Secondary infections are much more common and occur when the biliary or gastrointestinal tract becomes infected.

Tertiary peritonitis is not very common in the United States. It develops more readily in patients with compromised immune systems.

Peritonitis Symptoms Exposed

Over half the patients with tertiary peritonitis may require care in intensive care units. A type of tertiary peritonitis is tuberculosis peritonitis (TP). It occurs more often in people with AIDS or HIV. Generally, symptoms of this specific type of peritonitis include a low fever, weight loss, and anorexia. Without treatment, all types of peritonitis can be quite serious.

Most Known Peritonitis Types:

Primary peritonitis usually happens in those who have fluid accumulation in their abdominal area. This term is known as ascites and it is a common result of cirrhosis of the liver (a disease that causes the liver to become scarred and decreases its functionality). The proliferation of fluids can encourage bacteria growth.

Secondary peritonitis is a common result of bacteria accumulating in the abdominal region due to another medical disease. The most common microbes that cause infections in secondary peritonitis are E Coli, enterobacter, streptococci, and proteus.

In healthy individuals, bacteria reside in our intestines and the bacteria are unable to get to the abdomen. When bacteria, bile, or enzymes get into the peritoneum due to a tear or hole in the GI or biliary tract, an infection may occur. A stomach ulcer, Crohn’s disease, a ruptured appendix, or pancreatitis can cause these holes and tear. Pelvic inflammation disease (PID) can also cause bacteria to grow in the peritoneum and even physical injuries can cause the intestine to rupture or other organs to leak fluids into the abdomen.

The most common peritonitis symptoms include a fever and abdominal pain.  The pain felt can range from an ongoing dull ache or quick and sharp pains. The individual may also get the chills, lose their appetite, feel thirsty, have a lack of bowel movements, reduced urine, and nausea and vomiting.

Movement may worsen the pain of the peritonitis symptoms, causing the individual to limit any sort of actions that can cause stress on the abdominal area. Lying down with bent knees can be a helpful method to decrease the amount of strain on the abdominal walls. The function of the intestines may be limited during this time period, therefore the sounds heard in normal intestinal functioning may not be heard under a stethoscope.

Your doctor will be able to diagnose peritonitis based on the symptoms you describe. Your doctor will likely first physically examine your abdominal area to feel for any swelling, fluid accumulation, or tenderness. Your doctor may also listen to your abdominal area, check if you are dehydrated, your blood pressure, and if you are having any difficulties breathing. Additional tests can include blood tests to check for bacteria, fluid samples from the abdominal regions to confirm the presence of bacteria, CT scans to view if there is an accumulation of fluids, and X-rays to confirm if air is present or not in the abdomen (indicates that there is a tear or hole in the abdomen wall).

Treatment will depend on how serious your peritonitis symptoms are. Commonly, surgery is needed to repair any damaged organs. Fluids are usually given to prevent dehydration and antibiotics are often given clear the bacteria infection.

Peritonitis symptoms are not a joke. Talk with your doctor before you do anything else, or read the forums.

Clinical Features of Peritonitis YouTube Video

Reference links:

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/peritonitis-symptoms-causes-treatments          
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peritonitis/DS00990/DSECTION=symptoms
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Peritonitis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000651.htm