Victoria, BC

Family Medical Clinic


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Appendicitis is one of the causes of serious belly pain. It happens when the appendix, a part of the large intestine, becomes infected and inflamed. Experts do not know what the appendix does in the body, but most of the time it does not cause problems.

About 8 out of 100 people will get appendicitis sometime during their lives. It is most common in people ages 10 to 30, but it can happen at any age.

Infection in the appendix causes appendicitis. But doctors and scientists are not sure what causes the infection. In many cases, a small object (such as a hard piece of stool) blocks the opening to the appendix. Then bacteria can grow in the appendix and cause an infection.

The main symptom of appendicitis is belly pain. Many people feel the first pain near the belly button. Then it moves to the lower right side of the belly. But the pain can be in different parts of your belly or even on your side or back. The pain may get worse if you move, walk, or cough.

Additional symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Feel sick to your stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • General feeling of not being well and a pain that is hard to describe

The pain in your belly may be different than any pain you have had before. It may be severe. Or it may not seem like a very strong pain, but you may have the feeling that something is wrong. Trust your instincts. If continuous pain in the lower right abdomen lasts longer than 4 hours, contact your health professional right away.

The only treatment for appendicitis is surgery to remove your appendix (appendectomy). If you have appendicitis and do not have surgery in time, your appendix can burst. A burst appendix can cause serious problems.

If your appendix does burst, you will need antibiotics. Surgery to remove a burst appendix may be more complicated.

Click here for additional information on Appendicitis in Children.