Symptoms of Appendicitis

By  , Expert Content
Feb 01, 2012

Symptoms of Appendicitis

Appendicitis is caused due to inflammation of the appendix, a small finger-shaped structure that protrudes from the right side of the large intestine. It is the most common cause of abdominal surgery in children.

Characteristic symptoms of appendicitis are

Pain: Pain of appendicitis usually starts as a vague discomfort or pain in the middle of the abdomen, often, near the navel or "belly button" (umbilicus) that slowly moves to the right lower abdomen (toward the right hip) within a few hours. The pain becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen. Pain is usually the first symptom of appendicitis.

Symptoms that occur along pain in a classical presentation include:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting (it may start soon after abdominal pain).
  • Bloating or swelling of abdomen.
  • Fever (may be low grade or high grade--99° F to 102° F).
  • Inability to pass gas.

All these symptoms, however, occur in less than 50% of people, who develop appendicitis. A person with appendicitis may have one or more of the above mentioned symptoms.

Other symptoms that may occur in a person with appendicitis include:

  • Dull or sharp pain in other parts (such as upper or lower abdomen, back or rectum).
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Vomiting that may start before abdominal pain.
  • Severe cramps.
  • Change in bowel habits i.e. constipation or diarrhoea with gas.

These symptoms usually develop slowly over a period of 4-48 hours. The person may experience varying degrees of loss of appetite, vomiting and abdominal pain as appendicitis progresses. In the early stages, the symptoms may be difficult to differentiate from other abdominal conditions such as acute gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the stomach and intestines). A person with appendicitis may get admitted for suspected gastroenteritis and later be diagnosed as appendicitis when the symptoms progress or there is no improvement with treatment for gastroenteritis. The symptoms may be milder in children and the elderly, which may make diagnosis more difficult and increase the risk of complications.


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