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How can one tell if their appendix has burst?

How do you know if your appendix has burst? I felt a pretty sharp pain in the right area last week, and it persisted until the area just felt sore. If my appendix did burst, am I in serious trouble? How will doctors want to treat it at this point?
Typically an appendix bursts after a prolonged period of inflammation affects the appendix, a process called appendicitis. Appendicitis classically presents with a constellation of symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and depressed appetite. The abdominal pain often starts centered around the belly button, and then migrates to the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. As the location of the appendix can vary by several centimeters from person to person, the exact type of abdominal pain can vary as well. Usually a perforated appendix follows this group of symptoms, and the severity of the perforation can range from mild (with a small localized abscess) to dangerous (causing infection in the blood stream). A CT scan would be able to detect the presence of any abscess that formed as a result of the perforation; if present, these can be drained either through the skin or through the rectum. In either case, intravenous antibiotics are commonly used for several days, followed by a course of oral antibiotics. Some surgeons would want to wait one to two months after the initial infection before removing the appendix, and some may want to defer surgery unless symptoms return. If there is any doubt about the cause of your pain, it would be advisable to see your primary care physician, so that he/she can perform a thorough physical exam and perform other testing if deemed necessary to make a diagnosis.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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