What’s up with your stomach, anyway?
Everyone has experienced some kind of stomach problems—maybe a stomach virus or food poisoning, or a run-of-the-mill stomachache or diarrhea. (Check out the top seven causes of stomach pains and what they mean.) Less common, but still important to know about, is appendicitis. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 5 percent of the population ends up with appendicitis. It’s most common in teenagers and those in their early twenties. The Mayo Clinic defines appendicitis as an inflammation of the appendix, a finger-shaped pouch that projects from your colon on the lower right side of your abdomen.
The key is recognizing appendicitis symptoms, so you can treat it. “If it is not treated, your appendix can rupture, which can be life-threatening,” says Jennifer Caudle, DO, a board-certified family physician and assistant professor at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Abdominal pain is the most common and often first reported appendicitis symptoms. “The pain is generally located around the umbilicus, aka the belly button, and in about 50 percent of patients, the pain migrates to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen,” says Cedrek McFadden, MD a board-certified GI surgeon in both colorectal and general surgery at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. And while a stomach ache or indigestion is steady pain, with appendicitis, it gets much worse in a matter of hours. It’s often described as excruciating pain. Read more about the causes of stomach pains.