SELF – Men’s and Women Health & Fitness
Chances are, you probably got here by Googling “appendix burst symptoms” or “how to know if your appendix burst.” We don’t blame you—it’s natural that your mind immediately goes to your appendix when you deal with severe stomach pain. After all, appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix) is the most common reason behind emergency abdominal surgery in the U.S. If surgery isn’t performed quickly enough it can lead to a ruptured appendix—exactly what you might be wondering about and if it’s going on with you.
All that said, if you’re having stomach pain so bad you’re wondering if it’s a ruptured appendix or appendicitis, it’s a good idea to get to the emergency room right away. But how do you know if your stomach pain is appendicitis or if it’s actually progressed into a ruptured appendix? Keep reading to learn exactly how to know if your appendix burst.
First, let’s talk about the symptoms of appendicitis.
Before we can talk about a ruptured appendix, we have to talk about what precedes it: appendicitis. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix—finger-shaped pouch that sits in the lower right section of your abdomen—becomes inflamed. This is usually due to a blockage inside your appendix that causes it to swell up and get infected, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. So how do you know that that’s going on?
Symptoms of appendicitis:
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, here are the signs and symptoms of appendicitis to look out for:
- Pain that worsens quickly and starts near your belly button and then migrates to your lower right side
- Pain that gets worse when you move, breathe, cough, or sneeze
- Pain that’s severe and unlike anything you’ve ever experienced
- Pain that’s so bad it wakes you up in the middle of the night
- Not being able to pass gas
- A fever
- A swollen belly
- Feeling like a bowel movement would make you feel better
Here’s what causes a ruptured appendix.
Ruptures or perforated appendixes happen in a minority of appendicitis cases, Diya Alaedeen, M.D., a general surgeon at Cleveland Clinic tells SELF. If appendicitis isn’t treated promptly, an appendix can rupture because as the swelling gets worse, blood flow to the appendix stops. At that point, the appendix walls get holes in them that release things like stool and mucus. If surgery isn’t performed quickly enough it can lead to a ruptured appendix, which can result in a life-threatening infection called peritonitis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Sarah Chima, M.D., a general surgeon at New Jersey’s Newton Medical Center tells SELF that there are a few risk factors that increase the odds your appendix will burst. Those include having diabetes, taking chronic pain medications or steroids, and waiting more than three days after your symptoms started to get help. With that in mind, the biggest thing you can do to prevent your appendix from bursting is getting professional help ASAP if you suspect you might have appendicitis. And while there is no proven way to prevent appendicitis in the first place, there’s a chance eating a high-fiber diet may help, according to Cleveland Clinic, though experts aren’t sure why, and it’s not a definitive way to prevent appendicitis.
How to know if your appendix burst
Luckily, a person’s appendix doesn’t usually burst without warning. People will often develop the symptoms mentioned above, like abdominal pain mostly around the belly button toward the lower right side that doesn’t go away or gets worse, a fever, and nausea or vomiting, Sanford Vieder, D.O., medical director of Lakes Urgent Care in West Bloomfield and Livonia, Michigan, tells SELF.