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Peritonitis – causes, side effects and treatments at

Tuesday, June 05, 2018 by

Peritonitis refers to the inflammation of the peritoneum. The condition can be caused by bacterial infection, diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus, or injury and bleeding.

The peritoneum is the moist tissue layer of cells that line the inner wall of the abdomen and pelvis.

Peritonitis is a serious condition that requires urgent medical treatment. Its side effects include sudden and severe abdominal pain. A rupture or perforation usually causes infection. Pus from the infection can move from the gut to the peritoneum.

Known side effects of peritonitis

The side effects of peritonitis usually include:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fever
  • Inability to pass stool or gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shock

Patients who develop peritonitis while already in the hospital require immediate medical attention.

A swollen abdomen is also a side effect of peritonitis. When a rupture results in peritonitis, fluid will fill the abdominal cavity and the bowel. This means the rest of the body suffers from fluid loss, which causes dehydration.

Body systems harmed by peritonitis

Peritonitis may cause the following complications:

  • Abscess — A collection of pus that builds up in the tissue of the body.
  • Gangrene/dead bowel
  • Intraperitoneal adhesions — This may cause future bowel blockage.
  • Septic shock

Food items or nutrients that may prevent peritonitis

The following foods or nutrients can help prevent peritonitis or ease its side effects:

  • Antioxidants
  • Calcium
  • Healthy oils — Sources include olive oil or vegetable oil.
  • Liquids — If you are recovering from surgery, follow a liquid diet for several days to stay hydrated. Consume fat-free broth, fruit juices (without the pulp), fruit punch, tea, and water.
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Soft foods — Eat soft foods low in fiber that are easy to digest. Consume chopped, mashed, or pureed foods like applesauce, cooked or soft fruits, ground meat, mashed potatoes, pasta, and tofu.
  • Vitamins
  • Zinc

A patient with peritonitis must avoid alcohol, caffeine, and refined foods. Other foods you must avoid include bagels, berries, dry meats, popcorn, raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals.

Treatments, management plans for peritonitis

Peritonitis is classified as a medical emergency and treatment is often done in the hospital.

Treatment options for the condition may include:

  • Antibiotic medications — Antibiotics can be applied directly to the blood via intravenous (IV) injection. A healthcare professional will begin the procedure by using general purpose antibiotics while waiting for the tests that can determine the bacteria causing the infection. If the general antibiotic drugs aren’t effective, more specific drugs can be administered later.
  • Surgery — Healthcare professionals will recommend surgery if a patient with peritonitis has a hole in their gut. An operation may also be required to remove any damaged peritoneal tissue.
  • Wider support therapies — This option may include various therapies such as intensive life support or dietary assistance.

Where to learn more


Peritonitis refers to the inflammation of the peritoneum. It is a serious condition that requires urgent medical treatment.

The side effects of peritonitis usually include dehydration, diarrhea, difficulty passing urine, fast heart rate, and fever.

Peritonitis may cause complications like an abscess, gangrene/dead bowel, and intraperitoneal adhesions.

Antioxidants, calcium, healthy oils, liquids, magnesium, selenium, soft foods, vitamins, and zinc can help prevent peritonitis or ease its side effects.

Treatment options for the condition may include antibiotic medications, surgery, and wider support therapies.

Sources include:


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