Doctor performing McBurney's point tenderness test to diagnose appendicitis.

How to Check for Appendicitis: Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

The medical disorder known as appendicitis is typified by inflammation of the appendix, a little pouch situated in the lower right abdomen. It may be a dangerous ailment that needs to be treated right away. Early identification and treatment of appendicitis can be aided by being aware of its symptoms and signs as well as how to look for them. This article will cover the several methods of determining whether you have appendicitis, including typical symptoms, physical examination methods, and diagnostic testing.

What is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed, usually due to a blockage caused by feces, a foreign object, or an infection. If left untreated, the appendix can rupture, leading to serious complications such as peritonitis, a life-threatening infection of the abdominal cavity.

Common Symptoms of Appendicitis

  1. Abdominal Pain: Abdominal pain is the most frequent sign of appendicitis; it usually begins at the belly button and spreads to the lower right side of the abdomen. Moving, coughing, or sneezing might exacerbate the pain.
  2. Loss of Appetite: Appendicitis patients frequently lose their appetite.
  3. Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of appendicitis, especially as the condition progresses.
  4. Fever: A low-grade fever may develop as the body responds to the inflammation.
  5. Diarrhea or Constipation: Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, may occur in some cases.
  6. Abdominal Tenderness: Pressing on the lower right side of the abdomen may cause tenderness or pain, known as McBurney’s point tenderness.
  7. Rebound Tenderness: Rebound tenderness, which is pain that worsens when pressure is released after being applied to the abdomen, may also be present.

How to Check for Appendicitis

  1. Perform a Physical Examination: A healthcare professional will often begin by conducting a physical examination to assess for signs of appendicitis. This may include palpating the abdomen to check for tenderness, rebound tenderness, and guarding.
  2. Assess Symptoms: The patient’s symptoms, including the location, severity, and duration of abdominal pain, as well as the presence of other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, and changes in bowel habits, are important clues in diagnosing appendicitis.
  3. Obtain Laboratory Tests: Blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and a white blood cell count (WBC), may be ordered to check for signs of infection and inflammation.
  4. Perform Imaging Studies: Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan, may be recommended to visualize the appendix and surrounding structures and to confirm the diagnosis of appendicitis.
  5. Consider Other Differential Diagnoses: Other conditions, such as gastroenteritis, urinary tract infection, ovarian cysts, and kidney stones, can cause symptoms similar to appendicitis. Therefore, it is important for healthcare providers to consider other possible diagnoses and rule them out as needed.

How is Appendicitis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing appendicitis usually involves a combination of a physical examination, medical history, and possibly imaging tests such as ultrasound or CT scan. The physical examination is a crucial step in the diagnostic process and often includes a specific maneuver called the “McBurney’s point tenderness test.”

McBurney’s Point Tenderness Test

McBurney’s point is a specific spot in the abdomen that is located roughly one-third of the distance from the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) to the umbilicus (belly button), on the right side. To perform the test, a healthcare provider will gently press on this spot to check for tenderness or pain. Tenderness at McBurney’s point is a classic sign of appendicitis.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience symptoms suggestive of appendicitis, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Appendicitis can progress rapidly, and a ruptured appendix can lead to serious complications. Do not attempt to diagnose or treat appendicitis at home. Instead, contact your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room for evaluation and treatment.


Appendicitis is a dangerous illness that has to be treated right away. Early identification and treatment of appendicitis can be aided by being aware of its symptoms and signs as well as how to look for them. Seek medical assistance as soon as possible if you suffer any appendicitis-related symptoms, such as fever, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. To avoid problems and aid in recovery, a medical practitioner can do a physical examination, prescribe diagnostic tests, and administer the proper care.

Mohd Shuaib is a dedicated and knowledgeable author with a strong background in the field of health and medical sciences. With a Master of Science degree and a passion for writing, Shuaib has established himself as a reputable content writer at DiseaseInfoHub, a prominent platform for disseminating accurate and up-to-date information about various diseases and health-related topics.

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