Peritonitis involves inflammation of the peritoneum which is a thin tissue layer covering the interior of the abdomen and most of its organs. The inflammation is typically brought about by a bacterial or fungal infection from an abdominal injury, underlying medical ailment or a treatment device such as a feeding tube or dialysis catheter.
This is a serious ailment that necessitates immediate medical care. Prompt administration of intravenous antibiotics are required to manage the infection. Surgical intervention is often needed to get rid of the infected tissue. Remember that the infection can spread and become dangerous if not promptly treated.
There are 2 types of peritonitis – spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and secondary.
- Spontaneous – this is the result of an infection of the fluid within the peritoneal cavity. Kidney or liver failure can also cause this condition. Those under peritoneal dialysis face a higher risk.
- Secondary – this is due to an infection that has spread from the GI tract
It is important to note that the following conditions can result to peritonitis:
- Ruptured appendix
- Abdominal injury
- Perforated colon
- Stomach ulcer
- Liver cirrhosis or other forms of liver disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Infection of the intestines, gallbladder or bloodstream
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Invasive medical procedures including surgery, kidney failure treatment or presence of a feeding tube
What are the indications?
The symptoms tend to vary based on the underlying cause of the infection. The usual symptoms of peritonitis include:
- Abdominal tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal distention or bloating
- Abdominal pain that worsens with movement or touch
- Constipation or inability to pass gas
- Reduced urine output
- Fever and chills
- Appetite loss
- Excessive thirst
The initial step in managing peritonitis is pinpointing the underlying cause. The treatment includes antibiotics to fight the infection and medications for pain relief.
If the individual has infected bowels, an abscess or inflamed appendix, surgery is required to get rid of the infected tissue.
In case the individual is under kidney dialysis and develops peritonitis, it is required to wait so that the infection settles to continue with dialysis. If the infection persists, it is suggested to shift to a different form of dialysis.
Remember that the treatment must be started right away to prevent serious and deadly complications.