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Appendicitis Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

Symptoms usually come on suddenly. Pain generally increases during a 6- to 12-hour period. Patients may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
    • Starts as discomfort around the belly button
    • Usually moves to the right side of the abdomen over several hours
    • May be in a different location if the appendix is not in the usual place
    • Increases as inflammation in the appendix builds
    • Worsens with sneezing, coughing, and deep breathing
    • May increase with movement
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Abdomen feels hard and is sensitive to touch
  • Constipation
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Slight fever

If the appendix ruptures, symptoms include:

  • Pain becoming stronger and spreading across the abdomen
  • Increasing fever

Note: Symptoms may be atypical in infants, children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Diagnosis

Seek immediate medical care if you have severe pain in the abdomen. Appendicitis can be hard to diagnose. Symptoms vary and can be similar to symptoms of other diseases.

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. The exam will include:

  • A careful examination of the abdomen
  • A rectal exam

Other tests to determine the cause of your pain may include:

  • Blood tests—to see if you have an infection
  • Urine tests—to rule out urinary tract infection
  • CT scan or ultrasound —These tests, which are only helpful in cases of late appendicitis, are used to look for signs of an inflamed appendix or abscess that may be causing the pain.
  • Laparoscopy —A thin, lighted tube is inserted through a small incision near the belly button.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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