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What Is Appendicitis?

Maybe your side hurt so much that you called your healthcare provider. Or maybe you went straight to the hospital emergency room. If the symptoms came on quickly, you may have appendicitis. This is an infection of the appendix. Treatment can remove the infection and relieve your symptoms. Read on to learn more.

Your appendix

The appendix is a hollow pouch about the size of your little finger. It hangs off the colon (large intestine). The purpose of the appendix is unclear. But if it becomes blocked, it may become infected.

Outline of abdomen showing small intestine and colon.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Symptoms tend to appear quickly, often over 1 to 2 days. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain that starts in the center of your belly and moves to your lower right side

  • Increased pain and pressure on your side when you walk

  • Vomiting, nausea, or decreased appetite

  • Fever or fatigue

  • Either diarrhea or constipation


  • Antibiotic therapy. In some cases, your healthcare provider may advise treatment with antibiotics. This is if the appendix has not ruptured and you don't have other complications or risks. Using antibiotics helps keep you from needing surgery.

  • Surgery. Treating appendicitis with surgery is often the best choice. This is called an appendectomy. This is a very common procedure. Removing the appendix should not affect your long-term health. It’s best to remove the appendix before it bursts. If a burst appendix is not removed, it can cause severe health problems.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: John Hanrahan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2019
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