How to Recognize the Symptoms of Appendicitis

Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix when bacteria multiplies, usually caused by the opening of the appendix being blocked or a gastrointestinal viral infection. If left untreated, it can rupture and even result in death. Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency, so it's important to know how to recognize the signs of appendicitis and how to get help.


Is it just a stomach ache or do you have appendicitis? Observe any pain in the abdominal region. If the pain is severe, call a doctor immediately. If the pain is moderate or mild, pay close attention. Usually appendicitis pain begins at the belly button. Eventually, the pain will move to your lower right abdomen. However, the pain may also be felt in other parts of the belly, so don't rule out appendicitis just because it doesn't follow the typical "path". You may feel the pain somewhere other than the typical spot. If the pain doesn't go away after four hours, call a doctor.

The pain might get worse when you move, walk or cough.
It will usually become sharper and more severe over time as inflammation spreads to nearby tissues.
The pain might be eased a bit when you lay on your side and pull your knees up to your chest.
Avoid laxatives and pain medication if appendicitis is suspected.
Do the pressure check. Gently apply pressure to the area of pain and release the pressure quickly. If you have appendicitis, the area will feel tender when you apply pressure to it. When you quickly release the pressure, the pain will be a little worse due to rebound tenderness.
Check for other symptoms of appendicitis. Not everyone experiences the classic symptoms, but knowing what they are will help to recognize appendicitis if they do appear.

Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Abdominal Swelling
Back pain
Tenesmus (the feeling that a bowel movement will relieve discomfort)

Ruptured appendix, post-op-Get medical attention sooner rather than later. This is especially important with children, who are more likely to get a ruptured appendix than adults are. Their symptoms aren't always typical, and it's easy to dismiss appendix pain as a stomach ache--if at all suspicious that it's appendicitis, call a doctor. There are other conditions which exhibit similar symptoms but which are serious and warrant medical attention as well, such as diverticulitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and kidney disease.


The most serious complication of appendicitis is rupture, which can lead to peritonitis, a dangerous infection that happens when bacteria and other contents of the torn appendix leak into the sterile abdomen cavity(peritoneum), and form an abscess, a swollen mass filled with fluid and bacteria.
Many women who develop appendicitis during pregnancy do not experience the classic symptoms. The third trimester poses the most risk.
Toddlers with appendicitis sometimes have trouble eating and may seem unusually sleepy. They may refuse to eat even their favorite foods or snacks, and often are not even slightly interested in them.
People who have special conditions may not experience the classic symptoms of appendicitis and just having a general feeling of being ill and unwell. The special conditions include:

H.I.V. virus
Cancer and/or receiving chemotherapy
Transplanted organ
Infants and young children

Related Condition
There is also a condition called appendiceal colic. Severe cramping of the abdomen is caused by spasms or contractions of the appendix, according to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Health Topic Page. This can be caused by blockage, tumor, scar tissue or foreign matter. Traditionally, physicians did not accept that an appendix could "grumble." Pain may occur over extended periods of time and it may come and go. The condition can be hard to diagnose, thereby causing the child a great deal of distress, but it may eventually result in acute appendicitis.

Don't ever delay getting medical attention if you suspect appendicitis. A ruptured appendix can be fatal. If you are seen in an emergency department, and sent home without treatment, MAKE SURE YOU RETURN TO BE REXAMINED if the symptoms worsen. It is not unusual for the symptoms to evolve over time until surgery is necessary.