The peritoneum, the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen, supports the organs in the abdominal cavity. A fungal or bacterial infection can result in inflammation of this tissue, a condition called peritonitis. If the infection spreads to other organs or gets into the blood, it can be life-threatening. Recognizing the symptoms of peritonitis is important, as immediate medical treatment is vital to recovery.
Cause: Secondary Peritonitis
A stomach ulcer or ruptured appendix can all cause ruptures as well as Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, and pelvic inflammatory disease. Diverticulitis is an infection in your digestive tract; if one of the pouches break open, intestinal waste can drain into your abdominal cavity causing secondary peritonitis. Perforations in the gallbladder, stomach, or intestine may also lead to secondary peritonitis. Injury or trauma to the abdominal such as a knife or gunshot wound can allow bacteria or chemicals from other parts of the body to enter the peritoneum and cause the health issue.
Cause: Spontaneous Peritonitis
Although it is less common, you can develop peritonitis without having an abdominal rupture. Known as spontaneous peritonitis, this type occurs as a complication of another underlying disease such as cirrhosis of the liver. Along with liver disease, kidney failure can also lead to peritonitis. If you require peritoneal dialysis to rid your blood of waste products, you have a higher risk of contracting peritonitis because of accidental contamination of the catheter.
Symptom: Abdominal Pain or Tenderness
The most common symptom of peritonitis is severe abdominal pain or tenderness. If you have persistent pain in your stomach for no apparent reason, contact your medical provider immediately. If your abdominal pain is associated with any other signs of peritonitis, do not hesitate to seek medical treatment. That way, you can have proper diagnosis and treatment to prevent any life-threatening situations.
You might have felt bloated a time or two in your life. If you have an overwhelming feeling of fullness, also known as distention, then you might have peritonitis. While bloating can happen for other reasons, it is also a sign of this potentially fatal disease. Abdominal pain with bloating requires medical attention.
Symptom: Bowel Problems
While you might experience diarrhea as a result of peritonitis, it is more common that you have constipation or trouble passing stool. In fact, peritonitis creates the inability to pass gas, too. If you are having problems passing a bowel or notice unusual changes in gas, contact your doctor.
Symptom: Not Passing Urine
Besides having issues passing a bowel movement, you might experience a change in your urine output, too. A symptom of peritonitis is not passing any urine or at least passing a significantly reduced amount. Excessive thirst might also be associated with this symptom of peritonitis. If you are not using the bathroom as frequently as you should or have extreme thirst, seek medical care.
Symptom: Flu-Like Symptoms
Flu-like symptoms are often associated with several types of health ailments, and peritonitis is no exception. You may have a fever along with chills. Feeling nauseous or actually, vomiting is common as well as a loss of appetite. You may feel excessively tired, or fatigued, even if you had a good night’s rest. If you experience flu-like symptoms along with bloating, reduced bowel movements, or abdominal pain, get immediate medical attention.
You will most likely need to be hospitalized if you are diagnosed with peritonitis. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you might need intravenous fluids (IV) along with supplemental oxygen and pain medications. In some cases, a blood transfusion is necessary. While you are in the hospital, your doctor will observe you closely to ensure you do not develop signs of sepsis or septic shock.
Whether you are in the hospital or not, you will need a prescription for antibiotics. The antibiotics will not only fight the infection. They will help it from spreading to other body parts. There are different types of antibiotics or antifungal medications available depending on the severity of your condition.
If peritonitis is caused by a ruptured stomach, colon, or appendix, you will need surgery. In cases of appendicitis, a stomach ulcer, or diverticulitis, emergency surgery is necessary to prevent the infection from spreading. During surgery, the infected tissue or abscess will be removed. Surgery may also treat the original cause of peritonitis.