Symptoms

Illustration showing inflamed appendix Appendicitis

Appendicitis can cause a variety of symptoms that may change over time:

  • Early on, the most common symptom is an aching pain around your navel that often shifts later to your lower right abdomen.
  • As the inflammation spreads to nearby tissues, the pain may become sharper and more severe.
  • Eventually, the pain tends to settle in your lower right abdomen — near your appendix at what's known as McBurney point. This point is about halfway between your navel and the top of your right pelvic bone.

    But the location of your pain may vary, depending on your age and the position of your appendix. Young children or pregnant women, especially, may have appendicitis pain in different places.

What makes pain worse
If you apply gentle pressure to the area that hurts, it will feel tender. As you release the pressure, especially if you do it suddenly, appendicitis pain often will feel worse (rebound tenderness). It will also tend to get worse if you cough, walk or make other jarring movements. This is particularly true if the inflamed appendix is touching the peritoneum — the silk-like membrane that lines the inner abdominal wall and enfolds the intestines. The pain may lessen somewhat if you lie on your side and pull your knees up toward your chest.

Symptoms other than pain
In addition to pain, you may have one or more of the following appendicitis symptoms:

  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • A low-grade fever that starts after other symptoms appear
  • Constipation
  • An inability to pass gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling

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