Antibiotics are medicines that fight infection. If appendicitis is treated with antibiotics while a patient is in the emergency room, they might be able to go home the same day. Or, they might stay in the hospital for an extra day or two. How soon the patient goes home depends on how they respond to the medicine.
First, antibiotics are given into the vein through a small, flexible plastic tube. While the patient is getting antibiotics, they may also get medicines to treat pain and nausea, if they need them. Most patients can eat and drink while taking antibiotics.
Once the patient goes home, they will have to keep taking antibiotics as a pill for a total of 10 days, even if they feel better. They will also be sent home with pain medicine to take as needed.
If antibiotics work, the patient will not need to have surgery. They may be able to get back to work or school faster and have less pain than if they have surgery.
Results from six studies tell us that antibiotics are a safe way to treat appendicitis. In these studies, patients who were successfully treated with antibiotics were contacted 1 year after their first hospital visit. About 3 out of 4 patients did not have any more problems with their appendix.
Antibiotics, although usually safe, can also cause side effects such as skin rashes and diarrhea which are rarely serious.
There is also a 1 out of 4 chance that antibiotics will not cure the appendicitis—or that appendicitis may come back in the future—even if it is successfully treated with antibiotics the first time.
If antibiotics do not cure the patient’s appendicitis, they may need to have surgery at some point.