Symptoms of peritonitis 

Abdominal (tummy) pain is one of the main symptoms of peritonitis.

This usually begins as a sudden ache that develops into a severe pain. Other possible symptoms include:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • vomiting
  • lack of appetite
  • chills
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • rapid heartbeat
  • not passing any urine or passing less than normal
  • swelling of the abdomen

If you are being treated with peritoneal dialysis because you have kidney failure, the fluid that is passed into your collection bag will probably be cloudier than usual and may contain white flecks or clumps.

If peritonitis results from cirrhosis, you may not have any pain at all. You may simply feel unwell or develop other complications of liver disease, such as confusion or a build-up of fluid in your abdomen.

When to get medical help

Sudden abdominal pain that gradually gets worse is usually a sign of a potentially serious infection or illness.

If you have this type of pain, contact your GP immediately. If this is not possible, call NHS 111 or your local out-of-hours service.

Page last reviewed: 18/02/2015

Next review due: 18/02/2017