Appendicitis - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

The main symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain. The pain is at first diffuse and poorly localized, that is, not confined to one spot. (Poorly localized pain is typical whenever a problem is confined to the small intestine or colon, including the appendix.) The pain is so difficult to pinpoint that when asked to point to the area of the pain, most people indicate the location of the pain with a circular motion of their hand around the central part of their abdomen. A second, common, early symptom of appendicitis is loss of appetite which may progress to nausea and even vomiting. Nausea and vomiting also may occur later due to intestinal obstruction.

As appendiceal inflammation increases, it extends through the appendix to its outer covering and then to the lining of the abdomen, a thin membrane called the peritoneum. Once the peritoneum becomes inflamed, the pain changes and then can be localized clearly to one small area. Generally, this area is between the front of the right hip bone and the belly button. The exact point is named after Dr. Charles McBurney--McBurney's point. If the appendix ruptures and infection spreads throughout the abdomen, the pain becomes diffuse again as the entire lining of the abdomen becomes inflamed.

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Comment from: Megmaeve, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: March 25

My appendicitis symptoms came on rapidly. I ate pizza about 2:00pm on Monday, started developing stomach cramps about 3:30pm. I thought it was the pizza. They progressed to the point that about 5:30pm I called a friend and asked her to drive me to the emergency room (ER). I was in her back seat, on my knees, screaming and panting. I felt like my insides were being torn to shreds. She ran red lights to get to the hospital, I scared her so badly. She said later that I sounded like I was giving birth. All I remember is asking her to drive safely, because at that point we were both still alive! In the ER the pain dulled down to a dull roar and it took almost 3 hours to see a doctor. Once I was in triage, the physician made a quick assessment and got me a CAT scan. I think it took only 30 minutes from that before I was on the operating table. I read all of these other stories of days and weeks before diagnosis. I must have had a very short onset because my pain was so severe I thought I wanted to die if I couldn"t get help immediately. In the end, I am 4 days post-surgery and recovering well at home. Though, if anyone ever says this is a "minor" surgery, I beg to differ. I definitely cannot get up and start running around anytime soon.

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Comment from: Steve L, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 01

On a Monday night around 7:30 I had an espresso after dinner, somewhat unusual for me. Around 9:00, some intestinal distress started. It felt like some routine indigestion, like I was a little gassy. I blamed it on the late coffee and went to bed. Tuesday all day was more of the same, kind of a nagging indigestion. I ate my normal diet, had some coffee and enjoyed a nice halibut dinner. Around 9:00, I tried chewing three Tums; didn"t help. Suddenly at 10:00, I was hit with severe abdominal pain. Dropped me right to the floor, crying out. I was also instantly nauseated, I literally crawled to the toilet. I was 100% certain I would vomit, with cold sweat and shaking. But after 3-4 minutes, the pain subsided and the nausea went away. I had heard enough previously about appendicitis that I suspected it immediately. We went to the emergency room (ER), got the CT scan confirmation, moved to the hospital, and had surgery at 6:30 AM Wednesday. It was laparoscopic and I was back in the room by 8:30. I read somewhere that antacids can accelerate the appendicitis, and perhaps taking the Tums was related to the pain attack. But if not for the pain, I wouldn"t have known it was urgent, for at least another couple days.

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