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Peritonitis

Peritonitis is an infection of the lining of the abdominal wall (peritoneum) caused by bacteria or irritating substances. Peritonitis causes pain and swelling in the abdomen and can be very serious if it is not treated.

Symptoms of peritonitis include:

  • Swelling of the abdomen, which may feel hard (rigid).
  • Severe pain and tenderness in the abdomen that becomes worse with moving, coughing, or pressing on the abdomen. The pain sometimes reaches into the shoulder.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • A rapid pulse.
  • Chills and fever.
  • Rapid breathing.

A person with these symptoms requires immediate medical attention. Treatment typically involves surgery and antibiotics. Without treatment, the illness gets worse rapidly and can become life-threatening.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerNancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Last RevisedMay 10, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 10, 2012
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