Peritonitis: Painful and Life-Threatening

Peritonitis is a particularly painful inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the membrane that lines the inner abdominal wall and covers the organs within your abdomen. It is usually caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, brought on in the wake of a rupture or perforation in your abdomen. It can also come about following complications of other medical conditions, such as a ruptured appendix, diverticulitis, or trauma.

Outside of the acute abdominal pain, symptoms of peritonitis may include:

·         Bloating or a feeling of fullness in your abdomen

·         Fever

·         Nausea and vomiting

·         Loss of appetite

·         Diarrhea

·         Low urine output

·         Thirst

·         Inability to pass stool or gas

·         Fatigue

Peritonitis can be life-threatening; see a doctor immediately if you think you have contracted it. Left untreated, it can cause sepsis, a rapidly-progressing infection throughout your body that can cause shock and organ failure.

Your doctor will confirm your peritonitis after a physical exam, and, likely, blood tests. In addition to checking for an elevated white cell count, a blood culture can determine if there are bacteria in your bloodstream.

An X-ray, ultrasound or computer tomography scan may be performed to check for holes or other perforations along your gastrointestinal tract.

The standard treatment for peritonitis is a regimen of antibiotics. However, surgery is frequently required to remove the infected tissue, treat the underlying cause of the infection, and prevent the infection from spreading. It is particularly likely if the peritonitis was caused by a ruptured colon, appendix, or stomach.