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