How to Recognize a Case of Appendicitis

Learning how to recognize a case of appendicitis will allow you to get treatment quickly and avoid serious complications from the condition. Keep reading to find out the key signs and symptoms.
How to Recognize a Case of Appendicitis
José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli

Written and verified by the doctor José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

Do you know how to distinguish a common abdominal pain or stomachache from a case of appendicitis? If not, it will be difficult to know if you should go to the hospital or not. Because of this, today we’re going to show you some ways to recognize a case of appendicitis. Don’t miss it!

Appendicitis always occurs suddenly and without warning, so it’s very important to know the symptoms. Appendicitis is very dangerous if you don’t seek medical attention quickly, since the appendix can rupture and cause a case of peritonitis.

The most important symptom of appendicitis to know is strong abdominal pain, in conjunction with other symptoms that don’t seem as important and that we’ll talk about later in the article. Everybody should get to know these symptoms and be aware of the risk of suffering an attack of appendicitis.

What is appendicitis?

The appendix is a small organ that looks like a sack, located in the abdomen and attached to the start of the large intestine. When the appendix swells up and gets inflamed, it can become filled with pus, causing a terrible pain known as appendicitis.

It’s very important to know that the appendix stands out from the colon and is located in the lowest part of the abdomen. We still don’t quite know why humans have the appendix or what it does. What we do know is that it can cause quite a big problem when it gets inflamed.

As we mentioned before, the pain of appendicitis is very strong and generally starts around the navel. As the hours go by, the pain generally becomes more intense and moves to the lower right quadrant of the abdomen.

When the first symptoms appear, there are generally about 12 to 18 hours of intense pain. A fter this period, the situation worsens and can become quite dangerous.

You might also like to read this article: 10 Causes of Pain on Your Right Side

Who can suffer from appendicitis?

Everybody, no matter what age, can suffer from a case of appendicitis at any time. However, appendicitis most often happens in people who are between ten and thirty years old. However, appendicitis can also happen in older adults or even in very young children.

What are the symptoms?

It’s necessary to recognize a case of appendicitis and get a professional diagnosis as soon as possible. The treatment for this condition is quite complicated, especially in children and older adults, and the symptoms can vary from person to person.

As we mentioned earlier, appendicitis can become quite serious in a short amount of time and treating it must be done very urgently. Therefore, it is vital to obtain a proper diagnosis in order to save a person’s life.

The most common symptoms show up at the beginning of appendicitis and get worse as time goes by. The most recognizable symptoms are the following:

  • Pain that starts around the navel and moves position as time goes by
  • Pain the gets more intense or unbearable as you apply pressure to the area
  • Strong pain in the abdomen, especially on the right side or in the back
  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever that increases as time goes by
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
Woman in pain recognize a case of appendicitis

What are the causes?

There are many different causes of appendicitis, although the most common cause is an obstruction in the appendix, most often caused by a settlement of food or feces, or by an infection. Appendicitis can also happen after a gastrointestinal infection.

No matter what caused it, bacteria will multiply very quickly, which will allow infectious material and fluids like pus to fill the appendix, causing inflammation and possible rupture of the appendix.

What complications can happen?

The most worrisome complication occurs if the inflammation isn’t treated in time, or in a correct and immediate manner. The appendix can burst and all of the infectious material that was inside will flow into the abdomen and cause peritonitis, which is fatal if emergency surgery is not done. 

For this reason, the most used treatment is surgery to extract the appendix before it can cause any complications.

Other potential complications of appendicitis are the formation of a fistula, an abscess, or an infection in the affected area.

How do I recognize a case of appendicitis?

The following are considered signs of appendicitis:

  • Pain in your belly button area which later moves to the back and right side, worsens quickly and intensely, and hurts more when you apply pressure.
  • Intense fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, especially if there’s blood in it
  • Abdomen feels hard, or if there are pains in your chest or neck
  • Pain when urinating
  • Dizziness

Should I go to the hospital?

If you feel some or all of the symptoms mentioned above, get to a hospital emergency room immediately. 

Appendicitis requires immediate treatment. Otherwise, you could find yourself with very extreme complications that may even put your life in danger. That’s not an exaggeration.

A large number of people have lost their lives because they didn’t go to the hospital, thinking that it was simply a case of indigestion. While waiting for a home remedy to kick in, the appendix can burst, spreading the infection to your internal organs and leading to peritonitis, which could be fatal if surgery isn’t performed immediately.

Sadly, appendicitis is impossible to prevent. The important thing is that you know how to avoid the complications that will follow if you don’t immediately see a doctor.

You must go to the hospital as soon as you realize you might have appendicitis.

You might also like to read this article: Why Do I Feel Stomach Pain?

Don’t get too anxious about abdomen pain

After learning about the signs and symptoms of appendicitis, you shouldn’t worry every time you have minor abdominal pain.

You now know the risks and dangers of leaving appendicitis untreated and that’s what’s important.

It’s better for a doctor in the emergency room to tell you that you don’t have appendicitis than it is for a doctor to tell you that it’s too late and there’s nothing they can do.

You’ve learned how to recognize a case of appendicitis, which will allow you to seek treatment as early as possible, helping you avoid serious complications.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.