No symptoms at all?

Dr. Payne says he has heard stories about doctors opening up patients for unrelated surgery and discovering that their appendix has ruptured and healed without treatment.

But, he says, this is an urban legend. “If your appendix bursts, you’re going to know it,” he says.

What else it could be

 

The skin is loaded with sensors that pinpoint the pain if, for instance, you get stung by a bee. But it’s a different story inside the body.

Conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy, Crohn’s disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, and constipation can feel similar to appendicitis. But don’t guess—see a doctor.

Even if the symptoms are not traditional, doctors can do an ultrasound or a white-blood-cell count (which would be high if you have an infection) to help diagnose appendicitis, Dr. Payne says.

Rebound tenderness

Rebound tenderness occurs when you push on the lower-right part of your abdomen and then experience pain when releasing the pressure. Dr. Payne says not to push on your abdomen again—”if it hurts, don’t do it again” is a good rule with appendicitis-related abdominal pain—and see your doctor if you experience rebound tenderness, particularly if you have a fever, nausea, or other symptoms.

Gas and bloating

Eating five pieces of pizza and washing them down with a few beers would cause bloating and indigestion in anyone.

But if you go to sleep after your indulgence and wake up still in pain—or the pain is worse—you should beware. Also beware if you have been bloated for more than a couple days, have a lot of gas accompanied by bowel pain, or have trouble passing gas.

These are general symptoms that may indicate appendicitis if they occur in conjunction with other telltale signs, such as fever and pain in the lower-right abdomen.

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Constipation or diarrhea

Like many of the other symptoms, these may not be severe and probably will come on after you’ve already experienced abdominal pain.

But if you have mild diarrhea—especially if there is a lot of mucus in it—in addition to lower-right abdominal pain, see your doctor.