Appendicitis

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Appendicitis Symptoms and Pain

The main symptom of appendicitis is pain. Most people say the initial pain of appendicitis occurs around the middle portion of the abdomen.

Another frequent symptom of appendicitis is loss of appetite that may worsen over time and can result in nausea and vomiting.

Other symptoms that can occur are:

  • swelling of the abdomen,
  • the inability to pass gas,
  • constipation or diarrhea with gas, and
  • a mild to moderate fever.

Quick GuideAppendicitis & Appendectomy Pictures Slideshow

Appendicitis & Appendectomy Pictures Slideshow

Appendicitis definition and facts

What is the appendix?

The appendix is a closed-ended, narrow, worm-like tube up to several inches in length that attaches to the cecum (the first part of the colon). (The anatomical name for the appendix, vermiform appendix, means worm-like appendage.) The inner lining of the appendix produces a small amount of mucus that flows through the open central core of the appendix and into the cecum. The wall of the appendix contains lymphatic tissue that is part of the immune system. Like the rest of the colon, the wall of the appendix also contains a layer of muscle, but the layer of muscle is poorly developed.

Do we need an appendix?

It is not clear if the appendix has an important role in the body in older children and adults. There are no major, long-term health problems resulting from removing the appendix although a slight increase in some diseases has been noted, for example, Crohn's disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/25/2016

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