Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix.  The appendix is a 3.5 inch-long tube that extends from the large intestine.  Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes blocked.  It usually becomes blocked by stool, cancer, or a foreign body.  Sometimes the blockage in the appendix may occur from an infection.  The real function of the appendix is unknown.  We can live without having our appendixes without obvious consequences.
Usually the first classic sign of appendicitis is a dull pain near the belly button or upper abdomen that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower right abdomen.  Other common symptoms of appendicitis are: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling, fever of 99-102 degrees, and an inability to pass gas.  In about 50% of appendicitis cases the individual has painful urination, severe cramps, constipation or diarrhea with gas.  If you have any of these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.  It is important not to eat, drink, and use any pain remedies, antacids, laxatives or heating pads which can all cause an inflamed appendix to rupture.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency that requires immediate care. Appendicitis can be diagnosed with blood tests or an abdominal CT and/or ultrasound.   Surgery needs to be promptly done to remove the appendix.  If appendicitis is left untreated the appendix will eventually burst, sending infectious materials into the abdominal cavity.  This can be fatal if it is not treated quickly with very strong antibiotics.

1. “Appendicitis.”  National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.  NIH Publication.  February 16, 2012.  Web 5 April 2013.
2.  “Appendicitis.”  WebMD.  WebMD Medical Reference.  July 20, 2012.  Web 5 April 2013.