Appendicitis - Symptoms

An indication that the appendix is ready to rupture is the presence of certain symptoms that last more than twenty-four hours. These symptoms include a fever, an abnormally high white blood count, and a rapid heart rate.

The characteristic symptom of appendicitis is pain that begins around or above the navel. The pain may be severe or relatively mild. It eventually moves to the lower right-hand corner of the abdomen. There, it becomes more steady and more severe. Movement or coughing makes the pain worse. The abdomen becomes rigid (hard) and tender to the touch. An increase in these symptoms indicates an increased likelihood of perforation and peritonitis.

Loss of appetite is a common symptom of appendicitis. Nausea and vomiting occur in about half of the cases, and constipation or diarrhea may also occur. Body temperature may be slightly elevated, but a fever suggests that the appendix may already have ruptured.

An inflammed appendix. (Photograph by Lester V. Bergman. Reproduced by permission of the Corbis Corporation [Bellevue].)
An inflammed appendix. (Photograph by
Lester V. Bergman
. Reproduced by permission of the
Corbis Corporation

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