5 Main Symptoms of Appendicitis

Severe pain in the lower abdominal region may be a symptom of an infection in the appendix. This is known as appendicitis and it can be deadly.
5 Main Symptoms of Appendicitis

Last update: 15 October, 2018

The appendix is an enigmatic and conflictive organ. It’s up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) long and extends through the large intestine. The main symptoms of appendicitis are acute and constant pain, which hardly allows walking.

When this situation occurs, it’s not advisable to wait for the appearance of more symptoms of appendicitis to go to the doctor. Learn more about this painful ailment below.

What is appendicitis?

There are many reasons why this small organ can swell up. Basically, the passage or flow in the large intestine is obstructed, which causes inflammation and manifests as discomfort in the right area of the abdomen.

Once inflammation occurs, infection in the appendix begins as the toxins present inside the sac become impossible to release. Gradually, the pain increases considerably and extends from the middle area of the abdomen to its lower region.

Consequently, if appendicitis doesn’t receive immediate treatment, the infection can cause an abscess that triggers the tissue to rupture. This result is called peritonitis and can be fatal.

5 symptoms of appendicitis

To a greater or lesser extent, in any case of appendicitis, the patient will generally manifest the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the middle and lower abdomen, usually on the right side. Stiffness in the affected area and swelling is common as well.
  • Vomiting, lack of appetite, and dizziness.
  • Fever.
  • Diarrhea and constipation.
  • An increase of leukocytes in blood count.

Now let’s look at each point in detail to better understand the symptoms of appendicitis.

5 Main Symptoms of Appendicitis

1. Acute pain

In the first hours of appendicitis, when the inflammation is recent, the pain is subtle and around the navel. As the hours pass by, the brain manages to determine the origin of the nerve signals. Before 24 hours have gone by, pain from the swelling appendix transfers to the lower abdomen.

The area where this swelling is taking place and the description of the patient’s suffering is usually enough of an indicator for a doctor to determine the cause when making the first diagnosis.

2. Lack of appetite, dizziness, and vomiting

These symptoms can appear altogether and separately, since all three aren’t always present. However, intense pain is accompanied by the aforementioned signs to a greater or lesser extent.

In itself, appendicitis can’t be diagnosed just by having dizziness, vomiting, or lack of appetite. Hence, the same goes for the other symptoms that are listed. It’s the pain located in that specific area — periumbilical — that really sets off the appendicitis alarm.

“If appendicitis isn’t treated immediately, the infection can cause an abscess that triggers tissue rupture.”

3. Fever

Fevers are the body’s main defense mechanism and vary depending on each person. Generally, a fever may not necessarily signal an alarm within the symptoms of appendicitis. Normally, the temperature doesn’t exceed 38° C (100.4° F).

If the appendicitis is successful and perforation occurs, body temperature can rise considerably. In this case, the infection is serious, since the stools could be in contact with the abdominal area.

4. Constipation or diarrhea

The presence or absence of diarrhea as a symptom of appendicitis depends on the distance of the rectum to the pelvic area. When the rectum is within the area of inflammation, this symptom may occur. The stools don’t necessarily lose consistency, although the frequency between each stool does increase.

On the other hand, constipation is rather considered an atypical symptom in this case. It’s mentioned simply because if it appears, it’s most likely part of the same picture.

5 Main Symptoms of Appendicitis

5. Increase in leukocytes

Leukocytes are the main defense cells in our bodies, and a simple laboratory analysis can determine their count. Accordingly, if the count is greater, it’ll be an evident sign that external factors are triggering an inflammatory or infectious process.

If the amount of leukocytes is high, it’ll mean that the inflammation is worsening and that the immune system will make more white blood cells.

In conclusion, all the symptoms of appendicitis should be related to the area and type of abdominal pain that the patient describes. Generally, the doctor will suggest the removal of the organ to prevent serious infections in the future.

A healthy life, practicing sports, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and a balanced diet can be the best way to prevent appendicitis in children, young people, and adults.

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