Approximately 5 percent of people in the United States develop appendicitis at some point during their lives, according to medical experts with the Merck Manual. Appendicitis is an inflammatory condition that causes the appendix, a small organ within the abdomen, to enlarge and swell. People who develop appendicitis symptoms should seek medical care immediately. Without prompt treatment, a swollen appendix can burst, which can cause life-threatening medical complications.
Aching Abdominal Pain
Initially, people with appendicitis can experience a dull, aching pain that originates near the navel. Over the span of a few hours, the aching abdominal pain can migrate from the middle of the stomach to the lower right hand side of the abdomen. This position corresponds to the location of the appendix. The aching pain typically becomes sharper and more intense over several hours and can cause affected people to double over in pain. Sensations of abdominal pain can increase in severity when a person moves about or coughs. Painful early appendicitis symptoms will generally increase in severity until a person receives treatment.
Abdominal irritation and inflammation caused by appendicitis can contribute to the development of upset stomach symptoms in affected people. The characteristic features of early stomach upset symptoms include nausea or vomiting. These upset stomach symptoms can contribute to a loss of appetite in certain people with appendicitis.
Bowel Movement Changes
Inflammation of the appendix can extend into a person's intestinal tract. If this occurs, people can develop bowel movement changes as early appendicitis symptoms. Affected people can experience frequent urges to defecate that yield runny or watery stools. Alternatively, certain people with appendicitis can find it difficult to produce a normal bowel movement or pass gas. Bowel movement difficulties can be uncomfortable and may exacerbate upset stomach symptom in people with appendicitis.
As the appendix expands due to inflammation, people with appendicitis can notice that their abdomen appears swollen or distended. Early abdominal swelling due to appendicitis can cause clothing, such as pants, to feel unusually tight around a person's waist. The swollen abdominal region can also be tender or firm to the touch.