Sun’s out, appendices out

2 minute read

Your next trip to sunny Cairns might end up with an appendix tantrum.

Finally, some news that will create action on climate change: the hotter it gets, the more likely you are to get appendicitis.

As if people from Melbourne needed another reason to feel superior to people from Sydney.

The surprising findings came from a cohort study of almost 700,000 patients across the US with appendicitis, whose health insurance data and local weather data over two decades was analysed by researchers.

Scientists wanted to know whether there was any truth to some reports that people were more likely to need emergency surgery for acute appendicitis in the summer months.

And their analysis vindicated the rumour … sort of.

In cold weather – when temperatures were below around 10C – every 5.6C increase in temperature led to a 1.3% jump in cases of appendicitis.

And in just slightly warmer weather, that jump in temperature led to a 2.9% increase in cases.

“In terms of temperature deviations, a higher-than-expected temperature increase greater than 5.56C was associated with a 3.3% (95% CI, 1.0%-5.7%) increase in the incidence of appendicitis compared with days with near-0 deviations,” the authors wrote in JAMA Network Open.

But it didn’t appear to matter what season it was. The danger to appendices seemed to come more from fluctuations in temperature from the week before.

“Findings of this study suggest that the incidence of appendicitis increases when the temperature increases, independent of season.”

These findings might help scientists crack the mystery of what causes appendicitis.

This would be helpful, as around one in eight people will get acute appendicitis – and it’s one of the most common reasons people need emergency surgery.

“In past decades, new diagnostic and treatment approaches have been developed, including prediction scores, ultrasonographic imaging and reduced-dose computed tomography, and laparoscopic surgery, along with nonoperative treatments for uncomplicated cases that use antibiotic therapy alone,” the authors said.

“In contrast to these diagnostic and treatment innovations, little progress has been made toward understanding the risk factors for this syndrome, and its precise etiology remains unclear.”

The authors pointed out that the link to summer could be explained by people being more dehydrated – and as a result, constipated – in the warmer weather.

But it could also be that people change their diets or get gut bugs more in the summer months.

If something makes you double over in pain, send it to

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×