Peritonitis: what is it, causes, symptoms and treatment

Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, which is a membrane that envelops the abdominal cavity and covers the organs of the abdomen, forming a kind of sac. This complication usually results from an infection, rupture or severe inflammation of one of the organs of the abdomen, such as appendicitis or pancreatitis, for example.

Therefore, there are several factors that can lead to the development of a peritonitis, such as gastrointestinal diseases, injuries in the abdominal cavity or medical procedures that lead to an infection or irritation of the peritoneum, causing signs and symptoms such as pain and abdominal sensitivity, fever, vomiting. the stress, for example.

The treatment of peritonitis is recommended by the doctor to deal with the cause, but it is usually carried out with antibiotics and stabilization in a hospital environment, and surgery can also be indicated.

main symptoms

The main symptoms of peritonitis are pain and abdominal sensitivity, which can worsen the performance of movements or pressure the area, for example. Other common signs and symptoms that can be experienced are abdominal distension, fever, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, decrease in the amount of urine, thirst, stress and difficulty in eliminating gas.

To confirm the diagnosis of peritonitis, the doctor can perform a clinical evaluation that can reveal typical signs of the illness, with the palpation of the abdomen, or ask for the person to remain in a certain position. In addition, you can also request blood tests that evaluate infections and inflammation, in addition to imaging tests such as radiographs, ultrasound or tomography.

possible causes

There are several causes of peritonitis. However, the continuation mentions some of the most common:

1. Appendicitis

Appendicitis is one of the main causes of peritonitis, and the inflammation that occurs in the appendix can spread through the abdominal cavity and damage the peritoneum, especially when treatment is not received quickly and there are complications such as rupture or abscess formation . See how to recognize when abdominal pain could be appendicitis.

2. Inflammation of the gallbladder

Cholecystitis occurs when a gallbladder stone produces an obstruction of the bile duct and, subsequently, inflammation of this organ. This inflammation must be treated as soon as possible by a doctor, which may include the performance of surgery and the use of antibiotics.

If adequate treatment is not received, the inflammation of the gallbladder can spread to other organs and to the peritoneum, causing peritonitis and other complications such as abscesses, fistulas and risk of generalized infection.

3. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which produces symptoms that generally include abdominal pain that radiates to the back, nausea and vomiting. in case it is not treated properly, the inflammation can be serious and cause complications such as peritonitis, necrosis and abscess formation, which can put life at risk. See more about peritonitis.

4. Injuries in the abdominal cavity

Injuries to abdominal organs due to ruptures or trauma, complications after surgery or even inflammation, are important causes of peritonitis, as the lesions can release irritating content to the abdominal cavity and produce bacterial contamination.

5. Medical procedures

Medical procedures such as peritoneal dialysis, gastrointestinal surgeries, colonoscopies or endoscopies, can cause peritonitis due to complications that may arise, whether caused by perforations or contamination of surgical material.

6. Paralytic ileus

It is a condition in which the intestine stops working and stops peristaltic movements. This condition can arise after abdominal surgeries or situations such as inflammation, bruises, secondary effect of certain medications.

Symptoms caused by paralytic ileus include loss of appetite, constipation, vomiting or even intestinal obstruction, which in more severe cases can lead to perforation of the intestine, leading to the spread of bacteria that cause peritonitis.

7. Diverticulitis

Diverticulitis consists of inflammation and infection of the diverticula, which are small folds or sacs that appear on the walls of the intestine, especially in the last portion of the colon, causing abdominal pain and sensitivity in the lower part of the left side, in addition to diarrhea stress, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills.

Your treatment should be started quickly by the doctor, which is based on the use of antibiotics, analgesics, changes in diet and hydration, to prevent inflammation from getting worse and complications, such as bleeding, formation of fistulas, abscesses, intestinal obstruction and its own peritonitis. Know more about diverticulitis.

How is the treatment performed?

The treatment of peritonitis depends on the cause, but it is always recommended to seek medical help as soon as possible so that the treatment is started shortly, to avoid complications.

Generally, the treatment is carried out with the administration of antibiotics to treat the infection and prevent the spread of bacteria. At the same time, hospitalization is indicated, where analgesics and anti-inflammatories can be administered, fluids administered in the vein or oxygen.

In addition, if these measures are not sufficient to treat the problem, surgery may be necessary to solve the cause of the inflammation, such as removing the appendix, removing an area of ​​necrosis or draining an abscess, for example.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

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The translator user relied on the following text:

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified with your trusted doctor, this being just a vehicle for basics about certain healthy behaviors, conscious food consumption and other notions. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance.

Disclaimer – (Portuguese version>) Este conteúdo foi elaborado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou pelo trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário de Trata-se de um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É fortemente recomendado que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam cuidadosamente verificados com seu médico de confiança, sendo este apenas um veículo para noções básicas sobre determinados comportamentos saudáveis, consumo consciente de alimentos e outras noções. Nunca permitimos recomendação de medicamentos, bulas de remédios ou qualquer orientação medicamentosa.

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