What Side Is Your Appendix On? (Including Warning Signs of Appendicitis)

What Side Is Your Appendix On? (Including Warning Signs of Appendicitis)
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Your appendix is a small organ that is located on the lower right side of your abdomen. Pains that increase in intensity on the lower right side of your stomach can be a sign of appendicitis – the medical name when your appendix becomes inflamed. It is important to know what side your appendix is on because appendicitis can be a very serious condition that requires urgent treatment. An inflamed appendix can rupture causing excruciating constant pain on your right side and can even be a life-threatening medical emergency.

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Of course, there can be other reasons for right-sided abdominal pain other than appendicitis. However, you should never ignore this type of agonizing pain that causes nausea, vomiting, and a fever. An appendix can rupture as soon as 48 to 72 hours after the first symptoms of appendicitis. To treat appendicitis, surgeons need to remove the appendix from the end of the large intestine on your lower right side.

Although appendicitis can affect anyone of any age, severe pain associated with acute appendix pain generally affects young people and the elderly.

This article examines where your appendix is located and its function in the body. We will also look at the other symptoms associated with appendix inflammation that may or may not be felt on the right side of your body. You will also learn about some of the less-common signs of appendicitis because stomach pain from the appendix doesn’t always occur on the right side.

What Side Your Appendix is On

The location of your appendix is on the lower right side of your abdomen. It is important to know where your appendix is found to help distinguish between stomach pain caused by gas or indigestion and pain caused by an inflamed appendix.

According to Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD, your appendix is located where the large intestine and small intestine meet in the lower right abdomen.1

To locate exactly where your appendix is, you should find the top of your right-hand hip bone on the front of your body. Place your thumb on the top of your right hip bone and put your pinky on the edge of your pubic bone. Extend your index finger and this should be the exact location of your appendix.

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Location of the appendix diagram

Location of the appendix – diagram

The place where your appendix is located is called McBurney’s point and it is two-thirds in distance from your navel to your hip bone on the right side of your body. According to MedicineNet, when doctors remove the appendix from the right side of your lower abdomen, the incision they make is called the “McBurney’s incision.”2

Usually, if your appendix is inflamed, you will feel constant, severe pain around the area of your right abdomen.

What Does the Appendix Do?

Doctors are still not clear on what exactly the appendix does in the body. According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, the appendix may be connected with a child’s immune function. In older children and adults, the appendix doesn’t seem to have any important role. This is because the appendix can be removed without any further long-term health problems.3

Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the appendix may store good bacteria and help the digestive system recover from gastrointestinal illnesses. Just as the exact purpose of the appendix is unknown, doctors are also unclear why the appendix becomes inflamed, infected, and bursts.1

 Usually, the only way to treat appendicitis is by an appendectomy (removal of the appendix) as well as treating any infection in the abdomen.

Appendicitis Pain Location

One of the first symptoms of appendicitis is right-sided lower abdominal pain. At the early stages of appendicitis, it can be difficult to distinguish appendicitis from other causes of abdominal pain.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that appendicitis pain happens when an infection affects the appendix. The buildup of bacteria in the appendix causes inflammation and the appendix swells with pus. As this happens, the pain gradually gets worse and if not treated in time, the appendix can rupture. If this happens, pain will become very severe and infection can spread from the lower right abdomen to the rest of the belly.4

Doctors from the National Health Service say that appendicitis pain usually starts off as a pain that comes and goes and is felt in the middle of your abdomen. However, after a few hours, the pain intensifies and spreads to your lower right-hand side of your abdomen. The typical pain of appendicitis is then relentless and severe and can be felt in the area between your navel and right hip bone.5

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You will usually find that putting any pressure on your lower, right belly area will only make the pain worse. Even just walking or coughing may be enough to cause shooting pains in your right lower abdomen.

Other Conditions that Cause Abdominal Pain on the Right Side

Other conditions can also cause right-sided abdominal pain and symptoms similar to appendicitis. Dr. Mary Lowth on Patient.info says that some common reasons for discomfort and aches in your lower abdomen are a urinary tract infection, kidney stones (kidney pain), gallstones, inflammation of the intestines, or ovulation pain.6

If your belly pain doesn’t get better and just gets worse, you should see a doctor immediately.

Appendicitis in Kids

Appendicitis often affects kids more than adults. According to information published in the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, appendicitis is common in children and young adults up to the age of 20. In younger children, the most common age group for appendicitis is between 3 years old and 5 years old.7

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine found that appendix ruptures happen quicker in young children, therefore, it’s important for parents to know the signs of appendicitis in kids and exactly which side of the body the appendix is on.8

According to researchers, not all children show the same appendicitis symptoms as adults, thus making diagnosis difficult. For example, many kids who have appendicitis don’t have nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting that is common with adults. Usually, the tell-tale signs of appendicitis in kids are a high fever and tenderness in the lower right abdominal area that is painful when pressure is quickly removed.

This advice to parents is to know that appendix pain occurs on the right side of the abdomen and refer any kind of abdominal pain in children to their local doctor for an examination.

Symptoms of Appendicitis

Knowing what side your appendix is on helps to link other symptoms of appendicitis. Usually, doctors want to know what side the pain is on and what your other symptoms are.

Here are the most common symptoms of appendicitis.

Belly button pain. Even though your appendix is located on your right side, the first signs of appendicitis happen in your mid-abdomen area around your navel. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, appendicitis usually starts off as sudden pain around the belly button before spreading to your right abdominal area.9

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Appendicitis right-side stomach pain. Appendix pain will be severe around the right of your abdomen on the side where your appendix is. According to Dr. Mary Lowth on Patient.info, the pain of appendicitis gets worse over 6-24 hours. Your right abdominal area will be tender to touch and coughing may cause shooting abdominal pains.10

Fever. Because of the buildup of bacteria and pus in your appendix, you will usually have a fever as your body battles with the infection. Of course, fever can be caused by other infections even if you don’t have pain on the side that your appendix is on.

Nausea and Vomiting. Appendicitis will also cause gastric upset that will leave you feeling generally unwell. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that nausea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite usually accompanies right-sided abdominal pain. The feelings of nausea usually start around the same time as the pain.11

Constipation or diarrhea. It is also common to suffer from constipation or diarrhea along with intense abdominal pains.

Frequent need to pee. Inflammation of the appendix may also irritate the ureter and give you a constant need to urinate. Sometimes, it may also be painful when you pee.

Less common warning signs of appendicitis

Some cases of appendicitis have less common symptoms. According to Dr. Mary Lowth, some people’s appendix is not in the usual place. This means that any pain associated with appendicitis will be felt around the right hip joint or lower down in the groin.10

Other warning signs of appendicitis include:

  • Pain that suddenly starts in the lower right side of your abdomen.
  • Mild pain that only becomes severe when the appendix ruptures.
  • A deep abdominal aching pain that develops more slowly.

Even with these less-typical appendicitis symptoms, you will still have a fever and nausea.

How to Diagnose Appendicitis

It’s important to diagnose appendicitis as it is a medical emergency. Usually, a doctor will find the exact location of the appendix on your right side and perform some tests.

The doctor will push on the area between your right hip bone and belly button to see if there is tenderness. Doctors will also check “rebound tenderness” – this is when sharp pains are felt when pressure from the affected area is quickly released.

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In some cases, doctors may take a blood test to check your white blood cell count or they may ask you to give a urine sample to check for red blood cells, white blood cells, and bacteria in urine. X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound are other ways to diagnose appendicitis.

How to Treat Appendicitis

Appendix inflammation is a medical emergency that requires treatment and possible surgery. According to Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet, if appendicitis is confirmed then doctors arrange for the appendix to be removed as soon as possible.3

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that an appendectomy is a simple procedure done by making an incision on the side of the body where the appendix is and removing it. Appendectomies are an emergency procedure to remove the appendix before it has ruptured and the infection spreads to other areas around your right abdomen.12

According to doctors from Johns Hopkins, it’s important to be aware of severe pain on the lower right-hand side where your appendix is located because a ruptured appendix can cause serious complications. A pus from a burst appendix can cause peritonitis which is an infection of the belly that can be fatal.13

Can you Prevent Appendicitis?

Most doctors agree that it is not possible to prevent appendicitis, especially as the reasons why the appendix becomes infected, inflamed, and ruptures aren’t fully understood.

Dr. Mary Lowth on Patient.info says that some studies point to the fact that appendicitis could be linked to the Western diet. It is a known fact that enjoying a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber will help to keep you healthy and may prevent many gastrointestinal problems.14

Dr. Laura Martin on WebMD says that cutting down on processed food and sugar and increasing fiber intake by eating fruits and vegetables can help to prevent many digestive problems.15 Also, the University of Maryland reported on a study showing that increased green vegetable intake and eating more tomatoes seemed to reduce the risk of appendicitis.16

However, no direct link between diet and appendicitis has been proven and there is no consensus of opinion of effective ways to prevent appendicitis.

When to See a Doctor

Acute right-sided pain where your appendix is located can be a sign of appendicitis that can become a serious condition. Of course, it doesn’t matter which side your appendix is on, any kind of constant abdominal pain should be evaluated by a doctor.

Dr. John Cunha on eMedicineNet says that you should call a doctor if you have sudden, sharp lower right abdominal pain with a fever and/or vomiting. This is especially important if the right-sided abdominal pain lasts for more than 4 hours.17

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Article Sources

  1. WebMD. Picture of the appendix.
  2. MedicineNet. McBurney’s point.
  3. MedicineNet. Appendicitis symptoms, causes, treatments, and surgery.
  4. MayoClinic. Appendicitis. Causes.
  5. NHS. Appendicitis – symptoms.
  6. PatientInfo. Appendicitis.
  7. World J Clin Pediatr. 2015 May 8; 4(2): 19–24.
  8. HopkinsMedicine. Does this child have appendicitis?
  9. MayoClinic. Appendicitis. Symptoms.
  10. PatientInfo. Appendicitis symptoms.
  11. WebMD. Appendicitis.
  12. MayoClinic. Appendicitis. Treatments and drugs.
  13. HopkinsMedicine. Appendicitis.
  14. PatientInfo. Appendicitis.
  15. WebMD. Healthy eating when you have digestive problems.
  16. UMM. Appendicitis.
  17. eMedicineHealth. Appendicitis.
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