Your appendix is a little pouch connected to your colon. When this little pouch becomes inflamed, you have appendicitis, and you may feel pain in your appendix. You need medical help when you notice this pain (and other symptoms) because, if the appendix is so inflamed that it ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
Pain Associated with Appendix
When you first start to feel appendix pain, it may be a dull ache near your belly button. The pain may then move to the lower right side of your abdomen, according to Dr. John P. Cunha at eMedicine Health. The pain in the abdomen may become sharper as the inflammation worsens. The Mayo Clinic describes the point at which the pain may settle as "about halfway between your navel and the top of your right pelvic bone." The location of the pain may be different on different people depending on the person's age or the position of the appendix.
Pain Characteristics Specific to Appendicitis
According to the Mayo Clinic, the appendix pain may be worse if you push down on the location of the pain, and it may also worsen if you suddenly remove that pressure. This is called rebound tenderness. You may find some relief from the pain if you lay in the fetal position, which is on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest. Sudden movements should be avoided, as they may also cause more pain.
Additional Symptoms of Appendicitis
Pain is the most obvious symptom, but not the only symptom, of appendicitis. Having little or no desire to eat, vomiting and feeling nauseous may all accompany appendix pain, Cunha says. There may be swelling in the abdomen, an inability to pass gas and pain during urination. A fever above 37.2 degrees C, severe cramps and constipation or diarrhoea are also signs that you may have appendicitis.
If a person feels appendix pain and he is experiencing any of the condition's symptoms, he should seek medical attention. The pain may get steadily worse for six to eight hours and, if not treated (usually through surgical removal of the appendix), the appendix may burst. A ruptured appendix can cause shock and infection. Cunha says that a ruptured appendix can even lead to death if left untreated. He also says that there is speculation that a ruptured appendix may cause infertility in women.
Causes of Appendicitis
An obstruction or infection usually causes appendix pain. The Mayo Clinic states that, "Food waste or a hard piece of stool (fecal stone) can become trapped in an orifice of the cavity that runs the length of your appendix." A gastrointestinal viral infection or another type of inflammation may also precede appendicitis.
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