What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Symptoms of appendicitis include abdominal pain, vomiting, lack of appetite, and difficulty walking.

The most common symptom of appendicitis is abdominal pain, usually located on the lower right side of the belly. Other symptoms that may be present are poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

Symptoms of appendicitis begin as referred pain around the belly button when the appendix starts getting irritated. As the appendix gets more irritated from the infection, it starts to rub against the inside of the abdominal wall which causes the pain to move from the belly button to the right lower abdomen. At this point the pain is usually sharp and can be pinpointed to a single spot. Fever and chills, nausea, vomiting and a loss of appetite may also occur. It is usually uncomfortable to move and actions like jumping or even driving over a bump on the road make the pain worse.

Initially you may complain of pain in the lower abdomen that is mild to severe in intensity. Along with this pain, you may experience nausea and vomiting and a fever from 99 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Later, the pain will move to the right side of the abdomen, and the abdomen may be rigid or hard. The patient is sore and tender at a point between the top of the hip bone and the belly button. If any of these signs and symptoms appears and they follow this progression, you must see a physician immediately.

This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The first sign of appendicitis is often nausea and aching pain in the upper abdomen, which then moves down to the right lower abdomen and turns into a stabbing pain. Watch me talk more about appendicitis.

Joan Haizlip, MSN
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Appendicitis has many signs and symptoms, but the most common one is pain. The pain usually begins around the navel (belly button) and then shifts to the lower right side of the abdomen. It may start as an aching pain and then become sharper over time. There will also be tenderness of the abdomen if you apply pressure. Other symptoms include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Symptoms of appendicitis usually emerge quickly with pain increasing over a period of 6 to 12 hours, and may be different in infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Patients may have some or all of the following pain symptoms:

  • Discomfort around the belly button, moving 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 redness and swelling in the appendix builds
  • Worsens with sneezing, coughing and deep breathing
  • May increase with movement

Patients may also experience:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling
  • 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

If you have severe pain in the abdomen, get medical help right away, as appendicitis can be hard to diagnose. Symptoms vary and can be similar to symptoms of other diseases, so your provider will want to do a full exam and get detailed medical history. The exam may include:

  • A careful examination of the abdomen
  • A rectal exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Laparoscopy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.