Appendicitis - Symptoms 

Symptoms of appendicitis 

Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of your abdomen (tummy) that may come and go.

Within hours, the pain travels to your lower right-hand side, where the appendix is usually located, and becomes constant and severe.

Pressing on this area, coughing or walking, may all make the pain worse.

If you have appendicitis, you may also have other symptoms, including:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • a high temperature (fever) and a flushed face

When to get medical help

If you're experiencing abdominal pain that's gradually getting worse, contact your GP or local out-of-hours service immediately. If these options aren't available, call NHS 111 for advice.

Appendicitis can easily be confused with something else, such as a gastroenteritis, severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, bladder or urine infections and occasionally Crohn's disease. In young women, these symptoms can sometimes have a gynaecological cause, such as an ectopic pregnancy or menstrual pain.

However, any condition that causes constant stomach pain requires urgent medical attention.

You should call 999 for an ambulance if you get a pain that suddenly becomes worse and spreads across your abdomen. These are signs that your appendix may have burst.

If the appendix bursts, it can cause peritonitis, a potentially serious infection of the inner lining of the abdomen.

Read more about the complications of appendicitis.

Page last reviewed: 11/02/2014

Next review due: 11/02/2016


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The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

midgeymoo said on 24 February 2014

Just a quick question. I'm 24 and had my first surgery which was to have my appendix removed, on friday (21st Feb) and was wondering if it was normal to feel pain where my appendix was?
Can anyone help? Thankyouu

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User785147 said on 03 July 2013

CW2013 Well written information. I think it's pretty obvious that 'right side' refers to the patient's right side and not the onlooker's. the article is written from the perspective of the patient...

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cw2013 said on 22 April 2013

A mistake which I made that may have delayed the correct diagnosis! - Please don't make the same mistake! Remember - the pain from Appendicitis is on THE PATIENT's lower Right side - (not the right of the person looking at the patient) .... If someone from the NHS reads this, then it may be a good idea to update the second sentence in the article above to make this clear to unqualified carers / parents ...
Thanks for reading this.. best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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MagnoliaTree said on 27 March 2013

My advice, if in doubt go to A&E!!! My 20yr old son was admitted to hospital 12 days ago and had his appendix removed the next day. It was described in his notes (I had to look, the info wasn't volunteered) that the appendix was 'gangrenous' when removed, which basically meant it was in a horrible state and about to burst. Yet he hadn't experienced any symptoms until the day he was admitted to hospital. He rang NHS Direct who advised him to take some paracetamol and see a GP if it got worse. It got worse in the next couple of hours. He went to an NHS walk-in centre who also told him it was probably nothing serious and see how it was in the morning. Luckily, his girlfriend's mum is a nurse and his girlfriend rang her and described the symptoms, her mum advised her to take him to A&E straight away. He's still in hospital 12 days later (out tomorrow) having had secondary infection inside the abdomen, fluid on the lungs and temporary paralysis of the bowel as (apparently relatively common) results of the surgery. I was disappointed that he wasn't told of these possible complications in detail pre-surgery. Nor was he told until about 5 days after surgery that his had been a nasty case, which would have been useful to know upfront in order to manage our expectations of recovery. My advice is pester politely for as much information as you can get at all stages. Often it's a simple operation, hope it is in your case, but in some cases like my son's, it's not. If poss, get someone to be with you when the doctors do their rounds, so that they can speak for you if you're in pain and ask questions. Otherwise, I'm sorry to say, you tend to get left without proper answers. The doctors and nurses all have the best intentions I'm sure, but they're so hard-pressed that they don't often have time to volunteer information. So make sure you ask, ask, ask - the squeaky wheel gets the most oil!

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nikkijean73 said on 09 November 2012

my son who is 7 has been getting abdominal pains since february this year.
the hospital has been more than useless and i've had to stomp my feet to get anything done.
i asked for an mri which i have just got back and it shows nothing. this had been requested as my daughter has ulcerative colitis.
i've now got to go back to the g.p to be referred back to the hospital again for the 3rd time to ask for something else to be done.
9m of pain and the hospital will not do anything off their own backs. they told me my daughter had gastroenteritis for 10wks before i stomped my feet with them over her and asked for urgent mri to be done after she collapsed 3 times and it was only then they found the colitis after missing it on several blood tests.she was referred to alder hey from blackpool as urgent.
im concerned over my son as we dont know what is causing these pains, but my friends daughter had had pains for 2yrs without the hospital finding anything only for my friend to stomp her feet time and time again. 2wks ago it was suggested she have a laparoscomy and it was found she had a grumbling appendix for last 2yrs.
im wondering if perhaps my son could have the same

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cherry little said on 12 April 2012

I do understand what you're experiencing Katie.
It is 3 or 4 weeks wait to get to see GP other practices in area (which is rural, isolated) so they know they can get away with it.
Hope you got to see them in the end and you are OK now.
I think my daughter may have appendicitis, She has been in severe pain last 2 to 3 hours, comes and goes, feeling sick. But she is 400 miles away at university! She's worse standing up, so is now lying down trying to see if improves. I thought I'd better read up on symptoms so I can work out what to advise when she rings again! (I'm trying to sound calm.)

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katieunderwoodx said on 23 May 2011

seek help.
i have been expeircing abdominal pain for 6 days and it has now gotten very constant and alot more agressive .. along with this i am expericing dizziness, loss of appitite. i have spoken to two nhs walk in centre who have told me i have to see my gp, nhs direct told me to get seen to asap, yet i cannot get a appoinment for another 3 days. which to me doesnt seem to be asap if you ask me. they tell you to avoid going to the hospital, you try everything apart from hospital and get nowhere. honestly, the service i have recieve is pathetic !

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