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Appendicitis (cont.)

Appendicitis Symptoms and Signs

Appendicitis typically begins with a vague pain in the middle of the abdomen often near the navel or "belly button" (umbilicus). The pain slowly moves to the right lower abdomen (toward the right hip) over the next 24 hours. In the classic description, abdominal pain may be accompanied with nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and fever. All of these symptoms, however, occur in fewer than half of people who develop appendicitis. More commonly, people with appendicitis have any combination of these symptoms.

  • Symptoms of appendicitis may take 4-48 hours to develop. During this time, a person developing appendicitis may have varying degrees of loss of appetite, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The person may have constipation or diarrhea, or there may be no change in bowel habits.
  • Early symptoms are often hard to separate from other conditions including gastroenteritis (an inflammation of the stomach and intestines). Many people admitted to the hospital for suspected appendicitis leave the hospital with a diagnosis of gastroenteritis; initially, true appendicitis is often misdiagnosed as gastroenteritis.
  • Children and the elderly often have fewer symptoms, or cannot adequately describe their symptoms, which makes their diagnosis less obvious and the incidence of complications more frequent.
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The appendix is a wormlike extension of the cecum and, for this reason, has been called the vermiform appendix.

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