What is appendicitis, and what are the symptoms?

The appendix is a small pouch attached to the large intestine. Appendicitis is when the appendix becomes swollen, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Symptoms of appendicitis can vary from person to person. It’s a condition that can be difficult to diagnose, especially in young children, women of childbearing age, and the elderly, according to the NIH.

Pain around the belly button is a common first symptom. It usually is a minor pain that becomes sharper and severe.

Symptoms also can include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fever, according to the NIH. Appendicitis pain also can affect the right lower part of the midsection.

If your appendix bursts – ruptures – there might be less pain for a bit, followed by much more pain. 

Symptoms of a ruptured appendix, according to the NIH, include:

  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever 
  • Hard stools
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting

The pain and symptoms can get worse with walking, coughing, and sudden movements, according to the NIH.

To learn more about appendicitis and its symptoms, talk with your doctor.

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