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Surgical Associates Health Library

Appendicitis

Appendicitis is one of the causes of serious belly pain. It happens when the appendix becomes infected and inflamed. The appendix is a small sac shaped like a finger that is attached to the large intestine.

Appendicitis is most common in people between the ages of 10 and 30, although it can occur at any age. Common symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Pain in the belly. The pain may begin around the belly button.
  • Pain in the belly that gets stronger and moves below the belly button to the lower right side.
  • Pain that does not go away and gets worse when the person moves, walks, or coughs.
  • Pain in any part of the belly or on the side.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and not wanting to eat.
  • Constipation, back pain, and a fever.
  • Feeling sick and having belly pain that is hard to describe.

If the infection gets worse, the wall of the appendix can break open (rupture). This spreads infection into the belly area, causing peritonitis. Peritonitis is a serious condition that needs medical treatment right away.

The main treatment for appendicitis is surgery to remove the appendix (appendectomy).