It’s fair to say that many of us experience temporary digestive problems from time to time—especially when we decide to overindulge in sweets and fried foods! Having said that, there are plenty of other stomach illnesses that don’t go away so easily.

Take appendicitis, for instance. This painful and potentially life-threatening infection is something that cannot be cured with a teaspoon of antacid; it requires some serious medical intervention.

Because identifying the first signs of this illness could save you from having to go under the knife, we’ve compiled a handy guide to help you become acquainted with this tricky condition.

Here are some of the things that you should ask yourself at the first sign of abdominal discomfort…


Where is the pain located?

Appendicitis is relatively unique due to the fact that, for most patients, the pain is localized. Oftentimes, the patients will first experience a sharp, “stabbing” pain around their belly button, which will eventually move down to an area in their lower-right abdomen, just above their pelvic bone.

Though these are the classic symptoms, it’s important to note that sometimes patients feel radiating pain or even an aching in different places. This is especially true in younger children and pregnant women.

Because the pain associated with appendicitis isn’t “cut and dry”, it’s best to always seek medical attention in the earliest stages, especially if the discomfort isn’t moving to other parts of your stomach.


What does the thermometer say?

man with thermometer in mouthClaus Rebler via Flickr

Since appendicitis is an infection, it’s quite common for patients’ temperatures to rise, especially as the illness progresses. The fever may start off as a low-grade one—100.4-degrees or less—and then go up within the next 24 hours.

Since a fever is a steadfast indicator of a serious infection or illness, it’s important that you get into the practice of using a thermometer, right at the onset of abdominal pain. It’s a habit that may seem a bit unnecessary at first, but it could be the deciding factor in whether or not you need to schedule a trip to your doctor.

Are there other symptoms involved?

Many times, appendicitis sufferers have classic stomach flu symptoms, which is why they usually don’t seek medical attention right away. We get it, of course—there’s nothing worse than paying a pricey co-pay just to be told you have a common bug!

Nevertheless, if you are experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, gas, painful urination, and/or constipation, paired with a fever and localized stomach pain, then, chances are, something is very wrong.


Are you dodging your doc?

If the idea of a potential surgery scares you, then it’s important to remember that the appendix is a vestigial organ, meaning it doesn’t do a whole lot for your body in the first place. In fact, similar to wisdom teeth and tonsils, scientists can’t decide on why it’s there in the first place.

This means that a routine appendectomy almost never requires follow-up surgeries or medications. Usually, patients bounce back quite quickly from the common procedure.

BUT, we don’t want you to get to that point in the first place—the sooner you get help, the better. If appendicitis is caught soon enough, you can recover with just a simple course of antibiotics. Good to know!

Who knew that such an insignificant feature of the human anatomy could cause such a dangerous problem?! To learn about even more symptoms that may be associated with appendicitis, be sure to watch the video below.

Have you ever experienced appendicitis? If so, what was your doctor’s course of action? Did you have to get your appendix removed?