Peritonitis: the symptoms

Typical symptoms of peritonitis are sudden and intense abdominal pain. This is why affected people often adopt a curved posture to limit pain. Generally, the abdominal wall is very tight and hard, the abdominal muscles contracting a little in the form of cramps, contractures.

At an advanced stage, peritonitis can, like all inflammatory diseases, cause less specific symptoms common to those of more common diseases, for example:

  • fever,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • constipation or diarrhea,

The symptoms of peritonitis differ depending on whether it is localized peritonitis or generalized peritonitis.

Symptoms of localized peritonitis

In cases of localized peritonitis, abdominal pain is limited to the area of ​​initial inflammation. Most often, the belly is tense and sensitive to pressure or touch at this point. The localization of pain depends mainly on the disease, the initial problem causing peritonitis. If appendicitis is the cause of peritonitis, pain often occurs in the lower right region of the abdomen.

Other symptoms of localized peritonitis may be mild fever, nausea or constipation.

Symptoms of generalized peritonitis

In the case of generalized peritonitis (diffuse peritonitis), the inflammation spread throughout the abdominal cavity, causing pain throughout the abdomen. In response to pain, the abdominal muscles contract in the form of cramps, a contracture, causing a hardening of the entire wall of the abdomen. To relieve these pains, the person concerned automatically adopts a specific posture: lying on his side, his back bent and his legs bent.

Because large areas of the abdomen are affected by inflammation during generalized peritonitis, accompanying symptoms are also stronger. Often the patient:

  • has a high fever,
  • feels restless and dizzy,
  • suffers from nausea and vomiting,
  • is covered with cold sweats,
  • has an accelerated pulse.

As generalized peritonitis also affects the intestine, it often causes symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation and even complete stool loss.

Note: the symptoms characterizing peritonitis can also be manifested for other diseases ... for this reason, the doctor will eventually look for these other pathologies, and will have to establish an accurate diagnosis. Since generalized (diffuse) peritonitis can put the patient's life at risk, it is important to promptly consult a physician in the presence of one or more of the symptoms described above, to make an accurate diagnosis. It is essential that peritonitis be rapidly managed.

The diagnosis

In the hospital or at your doctor's office, several tests will be done to determine if you actually have peritonitis and find the cause:

  • a blood test to evaluate - among other things - the degree of infection,
  • an abdominal ultrasound to visualize the inside of the abdominal cavity,
  • X-ray of the abdomen to determine if there is air in the abdominal cavity, or to analyze other abnormal symptoms.

In order to identify the pathogens that caused peritonitis, the doctor may also take a sample of the fluid from the abdomen (ascites). This puncture of ascites is important especially when the patient suffers from primary peritonitis.

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