Appendicitis: Emergency first aid

Appendicitis is the most common affliction of the abdominal cavity. It can occur at any age, but it usually afflicts persons between the age of 10 and 30. What are the symptoms of appendicitis and how should I respond?

What is it?

What is appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. The appendix can become inflamed due to constriction or a blockage: the reason can be a fecal concretion, worms, intestinal contents or foreign bodies (e.g. fruit pits). Appendicitis can, albeit rarely, be caused by bacteria or viral infections as well.

Find out more about the clinical picture of appendicitis.

What are the symptoms?

How do I recognise appendicitis?

Appendicitis has the following symptoms: 

  • Severe abdominal pain that often quickly moves to the lower right area of the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Fever

These symptoms do not occur in every case, particularly in small children. 

What should you do?

How quickly do I need to react? 

In general, appendicitis usually becomes acute within a few hours and requires immediate surgery in most cases. If the surgery is put off for too long, there is a risk that the inflammation will lead to a rupture of the intestine and develop into life-threatening peritonitis

What to do if you have appendicitis?

You cannot treat appendicitis on your own. If you have these symptoms, quickly seek medical attention. Also follow these recommendations:

  • Do not apply heat, as this can make the inflammation worse
  • If possible, do not take pain relievers, so that the doctor can clearly identify the typical signs of pain during the examination and the diagnosis and treatment can be started quickly 

Information about appendix surgery