MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Quick Facts

Appendicitis

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details

What is appendicitis?

Your appendix is a small finger-shaped hollow tube on the end of your large intestine. Appendicitis is an inflammation that causes your appendix to swell and become infected.

  • Appendicitis is a common problem

  • Common symptoms are belly pain, feeling sick to your stomach, and fever

  • Doctors treat appendicitis with surgery and antibiotics

If appendicitis isn't treated, your appendix can burst (rupture). This causes an infection in your belly called peritonitis. Peritonitis can be life-threatening.

What causes appendicitis?

Appendicitis is usually caused when something, such as a tiny piece of hard stool (poop), blocks your appendix. The blockage causes infection and swelling.

What are the symptoms of appendicitis?

Symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Pain that starts in the middle part of your upper belly area and shifts to your right lower belly

  • Pain that gradually gets worse over a day or two

  • More pain when you move or cough or when someone presses on the sore spot

  • Loss of appetite

  • Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up

  • Sometimes fever of 100° to 101° F (37.7° to 38.3° C)

In many people and in babies and children:

  • Pain may be all over the belly, not just the lower right

In older people and in pregnant women:

  • Pain may be less severe and the belly area less tender

If your appendix bursts:

How can doctors tell if I have appendicitis?

How do doctors treat appendicitis?

Doctors treat appendicitis with:

  • Surgery to remove your appendix through either an open cut or a laparoscope

  • Give antibiotics directly into a vein (IV)

If your appendix has already burst at the time of surgery, you'll need to stay in the hospital and get IV antibiotics and fluids for a longer time to avoid sepsis.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Test your knowledge

Preventive Health Care Visits in Infants
Frequent doctor visits are recommended for all infants younger than 1 year of age. These visits, also called well-child visits, make it possible to check development, look for health problems, provide age-appropriate vaccinations, and educate parents. Which of the following is a condition that might affect some infants born very prematurely, with less than 32 weeks of development in the uterus?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP