Who is at Risk of Appendicitis and Can it be Prevented?
Everyone is at risk from appendicitis! It affects all age groups in equal proportion and men and women in equal proportion.
The lifetime risk of developing appendicitis is about 13%. It doesn’t run in families, but as 1 in 10 people get appendicitis, it is common for several family members to develop this condition. There is no good evidence that diet influences the outcome or likelihood of developing appendicitis. There is also nothing you can do to reduce your own personal risk of developing appendicitis.
However, as we get older, other conditions can mimic appendicitis, such as diverticulitis, which is inflammation of a diverticulum of the large bowel. The risk of developing diverticulum of the large bowel (known as diverticular disease) can be reduced by having a well-balanced diet that is high in fibre, from childhood.
There has been a growing trend to treat appendicitis 'conservatively' with antibiotics. This can be a good strategy, especially if you have bad case of appendicitis with abscess formation or other factors that can make surgery more difficult and so keyhole surgery unsuccessful. However, follow up data now consistently shows that the risk of recurrent appendicitis within 18 months affects a third of cases successfully treated with antibiotics.
If you have had successful antibiotic alone treatment of appendicitis and want to avoid having it again then a planned keyhole appendicectomy will prevent recurrent disease and if times 3-4 months after the initial attack can be treated easily with a short recovery time of 7-10 days in the majority.