OverviewCausesSymptomsDiagnosisTreatment

The signs and symptoms of appendicitis can be inconsistent from patient to patient. In other words, not every patient with appendicitis experiences the same signs and symptoms. In fact, only about half of all patients experience the classic symptoms normally associated with this condition.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain on the right lower side of the abdomen
  • Pain when the right side of the abdomen is touched
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Low-grade fever between 99 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit; a fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit and increased heart rate may indicate a ruptured appendix
  • Inability to pass gas
  • Change in normal bowel pattern
  • Feeling like having a bowel movement will relieve the pain

How Common are these Signs?

  • Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of appendicitis.
  • Anywhere from 61 to 92 percent of patients with appendicitis experience nausea, and 74 to 78 percent have a lack of appetite.
  • As many as 18 percent have diarrhea or constipation.
  • Vomiting almost always follows the onset of pain.

FAQ

What are the early signs and symptoms of appendicitis?

Early signs and symptoms of appendicitis typically include abdominal pain that starts just above the belly button and then moves to the right lower side of the abdomen. The pain may begin suddenly, and may even awaken the patient if they are asleep. Pain typically develops before other symptoms. Coughing, sneezing, or taking deep breaths may worsen pain.

The patient may also have a decreased appetite and nausea. The symptoms may grow in intensity within a few hours and be worsened by moving around.

Does appendicitis pain come and go?

Acute appendicitis pain never goes completely away, and can worsen with time.

Where does appendicitis hurt?

Appendicitis typically starts with the gradual onset of dull, cramping, or aching pain in the middle of the abdomen, near the belly button. Increasing inflammation within the appendix irritates the lining of the abdominal wall, known as the peritoneum. The irritation causes localized, sharp pain in the lower right area of the abdomen.

Now, some people have a retrocolic appendix, which means their appendix sits behind their colon. These individuals can experience lower back pain or pelvic pain during appendicitis.

How long can appendicitis symptoms last before it bursts?

Appendicitis symptoms can last for approximately 36 to 72 hours before a rupture occurs.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


More about Appendicitis

Written by

Medically reviewed by