Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen. The appendix doesn’t seem to have a specific purpose.
Appendicitis causes pain in your lower right abdomen. However, in most people, pain begins around the navel and then moves. As inflammation worsens, appendicitis pain typically increases and eventually becomes severe.
Although anyone can develop appendicitis, most often it occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 30. Standard treatment is surgical removal of the appendix.
What causes Appendicitis?
A blockage in the lining of the appendix that results in infection is the likely cause of appendicitis. The bacteria multiply rapidly, causing the appendix to become inflamed, swollen and filled with pus. If not treated promptly, the appendix can rupture.
Symptoms of Appendicitis
1. Belly-button pain
Appendicitis pain often occurs in the lower-right side of the abdomen. The first sign, however, is typically discomfort near the belly button, which then moves to the lower abdomen. Some people, including children and pregnant women, may experience pain in different areas of their abdomen or on their side.
The pain also will get worse if you move your legs or abdomen; cough or sneeze; or are jarred—during a bumpy car ride, for instance.
2. Rapidly worsening pain
Once the pain is in the lower part of the abdomen, it can be very intense. Appendicitis is severe enough to wake someone who is sleeping. Once it hits, the severity of pain can increase quickly—within a matter of hours.
3. Low-grade fever and chills
Appendicitis symptoms may mimic those of a stomach bug, including a low-grade fever, chills, and shaking.
4. Vomiting, nausea, or loss of appetite
You won’t have projectile vomiting, you may, however, have a couple days where your appetite is low with some mild nausea and vomiting, similar to what you might have with a stomach bug. If it improves after a day or so, you’re probably fine. But if it continues to get worse—particularly if you also have a fever and lower-right abdominal pain, seek medical attention. If you have been vomiting for more than 12 hours, or have had diarrhea for more than a couple days, you should call your doctor.
5. Constipation or diarrhea
Like many of the other symptoms, these may not be severe and probably will come on after you’ve already experienced abdominal pain. But if you have mild diarrhea—especially if there is a lot of mucus in it—in addition to lower-right abdominal pain, see your doctor.
6. Gas and bloating
Eating too much will cause bloating and indigestion for everyone, but if you go to sleep after your indulgence and wake up still in pain—or the pain is worse—you should beware. Also beware if you have been bloated for more than a couple days, have a lot of gas accompanied by bowel pain, or have trouble passing gas.
These are general symptoms that may indicate appendicitis if they occur in conjunction with other telltale signs, such as fever and pain in the lower-right.
7. Rebound tenderness
Rebound tenderness occurs when you push on the lower-right part of your abdomen and then experience pain when releasing the pressure. not to push on your abdomen again—”if it hurts, don’t do it again” is a good rule with appendicitis-related abdominal pain—and see your doctor if you experience rebound tenderness, particularly if you have a fever, nausea, or other symptoms.
PS: The site of your pain may vary, depending on your age and the position of your appendix. When you’re pregnant, the pain may seem to come from your upper abdomen because your appendix is higher during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Appendicitis in Children
Always take your child to the hospital if you suspect they have appendicitis.
Children aren’t always able to describe how they’re feeling. They also may have a difficult time pinpointing the pain, and they may say that the pain is in their entire abdomen. This can make it difficult to determine that appendicitis is the cause. Parents can easily mistake appendicitis for a stomach bug or urinary tract infection (UTI).
However, it’s always better to be cautious when it comes to appendicitis. A ruptured appendix can be dangerous for anyone, but the risk of death is highest in infants and toddlers.
Children ages 2 and younger often show the following symptoms of appendicitis:
- abdominal bloating or swelling
- a tender abdomen
Older children and teenagers are more likely to experience:
- Pain in the lower right side of the abdomen
This content has contributions from health articles and videos.