Abdominal pain is the main symptom of appendicitis. The pain starts out as diffuse, meaning it is difficult to localize the area of pain. Most people say the initial pain of appendicitis occurs around the middle portion of the abdomen. As the inflammation of the appendix progresses, the pain becomes localized to one area. Once the peritoneum (lining tissue of the abdomen) is inflamed, the pain of appendicitis is characteristically located at a point between the navel and the front of the right hip bone. Anatomically, this is referred to as McBurney's point.
Another frequent symptom of appendicitis is loss of appetite. Over time, this can worsen, resulting 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.
Some people with appendicitis have atypical symptoms. They may not have the classic pain localized in the lower right abdomen. Sometimes, affected people report experiencing rectal or back pain. Painful urination has also been reported. The nausea and vomiting may precede the onset of abdominal pain in certain cases.
Causes of appendicitis
The cause of appendicitis is believed to be an infection of the wall of the appendix that begins with blockage (by stool, cancer, or foreign body) of the opening from the appendix into the cecum of the large intestine. At other times, the lymphatic (immune response) tissues in the appendix swell and block the opening. When the blockage occurs, bacteria that are normally found within the appendix begin to grow and infect the wall of the appendix, leading to inflammation.
Craig, Sandy. "Appendicitis." Medscape.com. Jan. 19, 2017. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/773895-overview>.
United States. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "Appendicitis." <http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/appendicitis/index.aspx>.
Main Article on Appendicitis Symptoms and Signs
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Appendicitis Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
How dangerous is appendicitis? Take this quiz to answer questions, get quick facts, and learn the causes of appendicitis as well...
Appendix Pain? Appendicitis, Surgery, and More
What causes appendicitis? Appendix pain can lead to appendicitis. Learn about appendicitis symptoms and signs. Explore the steps...
Picture of Appendicitis
Inflammation of the appendix, the small worm-like projection from the first part of the colon. See a picture of Appendicitis and...
What's Causing Your Abdominal Pain?
Get the facts on the most common causes of abdominal pain. Learn the difference between a stomachache and more serious causes of...
Appendicitis Symptoms and Signs
Examples of Medications for Appendicitis Symptoms and Signs
- ampicillin/sulbactam - injection, Unasyn
- cefepime - injection, Maxipime
- Cipro, Cipro XR (ciprofloxacin) Antibiotic Side Effects
- ciprofloxacin - injection, Cipro
- ertapenem - injection, Invanz
- gentamicin injection (Garamycin)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin) Antibiotic
- meropenem (Merrem)
- piperacillin and tazobactam (Zosyn)
- ticarcillin/clavulanate potassium - injection, Timentin
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter