9 Classic Appendicitis Symptoms (in Adults, Children & Pregnancy)

Updated in March 2024

Appendicitis symptoms can vary depending on the location of the appendix, as well as the type and duration of inflammation. Nonetheless, appendicitis typically presents with symptoms like severe abdominal pain on the right side of the belly, fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Generally, appendicitis pain begins within the first 24 hours of the onset of inflammation. The pain is described as mild at first, but tends to worsen after 48 hours.

It is important to proceed to the emergency room if you suspect your may have appendicitis symptoms. If diagnosed, this condition is treated promptly, typically through surgical removal of the appendix, otherwise known as an appendictomy. 

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9 symptoms of appendicitis

The symptoms of appendicitis appear quickly and intensely. The most common symptoms include:

1. Pain in the right lower abdomen

Appendicitis pain is usually sudden and starts in the lower right side of the belly. In some cases it can also start around the belly button and, little by little, move to the lower right side. This pain worsens with coughing, sneezing or walking.

Read more about appendicitis pain and how it presents.

2. Loss of appetite

This is a very common symptom of appendicitis, and can happen as a result of excessive pain and nausea from inflammation.

3. Nausea and vomiting

These symptoms may arise due to reduced intestinal flow.

4. Diarrhea or constipation

Diarrhea or constipation are common especially in people with an appendix tip located in the pelvic region, near the rectum, which is the final part of the intestine.

5. Difficulty releasing intestinal gas

With appendicitis, flow within the intestine slows down, making it difficult to eliminate gases.

6. Abdominal bloating

Constipation and accumulated gas from a slow bowel movements can lead to abdominal bloating.

7. Low-grade fever

A low-grade fever, with temperatures between 37.5ºC and 38ºC (or 99.5º to 100.4ºF) tend to appear after 1 or 2 days of inflammation as an immune response to try to combat inflammation.

8. Pain or difficulty urinating

Difficulty urinating occurs mainly in people who have the tip of the appendix located in the pelvic region.

9. General malaise

The discomfort and malaise caused by inflammation can cause generalized discomfort

Online quiz for appendicitis symptoms

If you think you may have appendicitis, report your symptoms below to assess your risk:

  1. 1. Abdominal pain or discomfort
  2. 2. Severe pain in the lower right side of the belly
  3. 3. Nausea or vomiting
  4. 4. Loss of appetite
  5. 5. Persistent low-grade fever (37.5º to 38ºC or 99.5º to 100.4ºF)
  6. 6. General malaise
  7. 7. Constipation or diarrhea
  8. 8. Bloating or excess gas

Symptoms in babies and children

Appendicitis rarely occurs in babies, but when it does, symptoms like a stomach ache, fever or vomiting can emerge. In some cases, you may also notice swelling in the belly or extreme sensitivity to palpation of the belly that results in the baby crying.

In children, symptoms will develop much quicker than in adults. There is a higher risk for rupture of the appendix due to the fragility of the abdominal lining.

Therefore, if appendicitis is suspected, proceed immediately to the emergency room, so that a diagnosis can be confirmed and indicated treatment can be started promptly.

Symptoms in pregnant women

Symptoms can emerge at any moment during pregnancy, but most frequently occur in the first or second trimester.

In pregnant women, symptoms will be very similar to the ones mentioned above (e.g. pain in the lower right abdomen). However, at the end of pregnancy, symptoms can be less specific due to the displacement of the appendix by the fetus. Pain can be confused with contractions or pregnancy-related discomfort, which can complicate the diagnosis and delay treatment.

Symptoms of chronic appendicitis

Although acute appendicitis is more common, chronic appendicitis can occur in some people. The pain in chronic appendicitis is typically more diffuse, but it can be slightly stronger on the left side of the belly or in the lower abdomen. This pain can last for months to years, until the correct diagnosis is made.

When to see a doctor

You should proceed immediately to the emergency room if you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms, especially if any of these symptoms emerge hours later:

  • Increasing abdominal pain
  • Fever over 38ºC (or 100.4ºF)
  • Chills or tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty pooping or passing gas

These symptoms can indicate that the appendix has already ruptured and that fecal matter has spread within the abdomen, which can lead to a serious infection.