A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Pain in lower, right abdomen? Could be appendicitis

Seek care as soon as possible if you have this classic symptom for appendicitis: pain in the lower abdomen or belly that starts around the belly button and then goes to the lower, right abdomen.

graphic of appendicitis pain in lower right abdomenAppendicitis is a serious health concern that you should treat as soon as possible.

“I oftentimes see people come in and they thought they were constipated, so they tried taking something for that. Or they had some indigestion and they tried taking Tums,” said Dr. Kari Paulson, general surgeon for Marshfield Clinic Health System. “A lot of people try all these things, including over-the-counter pain medicine, but it doesn’t get better.”

Common appendicitis symptoms include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen that starts around the belly button and then goes to the right, lower abdomen.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of hunger
  • Fever

RELATED RESOURCE: Find a Marshfield Clinic Health System emergency department

What is appendicitis?

The appendix is a pouch that connects to the colon in your right, lower abdomen or belly.

Appendicitis is inflammation or painful swelling of the appendix. This is often caused by a blockage of the appendiceal orifice, which is an opening into the appendix.

The swelling is what causes pain in the lower, right abdomen or belly, which is a common symptom of appendicitis.

When a doctor cannot treat it, the swelling leads to increased pressure and reduced blood flow. This can cause a hole in the appendix, leading to a pocket of pus called an abscess or swelling of the lining of your abdomen.

“The appendix will usually grow over the course of about three days before it breaks open,” said Dr. Paulson. “Appendicitis is a common emergency that impacts both adults and children.”

Appendicitis treatments

A doctor can use lab tests and a scan of your belly to confirm that you have appendicitis. Once a doctor confirms you have appendicitis, they will discuss treatment options with you.

The most common options for treatment of appendicitis are surgery to remove the appendix or antibiotics to treat the infection. In some cases, both may be used.

During the surgery, a surgeon will make three small incisions. A surgeon may also use a surgical robot to help with the surgery.

RELATED ARTICLE: Laparoscopy provides minimally invasive surgical options

“Usually, recovery from an appendix surgery is pretty quick. You can eat right after surgery, and be discharged home right afterwards,” Dr. Paulson said. “Most can get back to light activity in a week or two.”

You can typically manage pain from the surgery with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but your doctor may prescribe opiates in cases with more pain. The surgeon will typically follow-up with you a few weeks after the surgery to ensure proper healing.

Dr. Paulson finds that most people do better when they get their appendix removed. However, antibiotics may be a better fit if someone cannot heal from surgery.

For immediate care, visit Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Find an emergency department location Find an urgent care location

Related Shine365 articles

Period pain? Endometriosis could be the cause

Laparoscopy provides minimally invasive surgical options

Staying on course: Do I need to finish my antibiotics?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

View our comment policy