Stomach ache or appendicitis?

Could your stomach ache be something more serious? Here's how to tell the difference between a stomach ache and appendicitis.

We all know the dangers associated with appendicitis and that stomach pain is often the main symptom. But how do you tell the difference between a bout of indigestion or a stomach bug and appendicitis?

a woman holding her lower stomach

Appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix, can be life threatening if prompt treatment isn’t sought. Whilst this is rare, it’s important to recognise the signs of appendicitis.

Diagnosing appendicitis can be tricky because the symptoms often mirror those of gastroenteritis . Abdominal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhoea and a fever are symptoms that are present for both conditions. The key difference is that gastro strikes hard and fast – the symptoms mostly disappear as quickly as they come on. If they don’t, it’s time to see a doctor.

Whilst some of the symptoms are similar, the Better Health channel advises that appendicitis can be recognised through taking heed of the following symptoms:

  • Dull pain centered around the navel
  • Dull pain that progresses to a sharp pain in the lower right side of your abdomen
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite

If you or your child are displaying these symptoms its best to seek advice from your doctor who can perform a physical examination.

Remember that children often find it hard to say where their pain is so it’s best to err on the side of caution if your child is complaining of a prolonged stomach ache and pain associated with movement.

If you or your child are diagnosed with appendicitis, you will most likely undergo an operation to remove the appendix. This is known as an appendectomy. Where possible the surgeon will remove the appendix through keyhole surgery which uses several tiny cuts. If this is not possible a small larger incision will be made in your lower abdomen. This is known as an open appendectomy.

To find out more about how your private hospital insurance could help you manage the cost of a procedure like this, take a look at our interactive out-of-pocket costs tool.

Need a little extra support?

Going to hospital?

If you’re an eligible member with hospital cover you can speak to our Health Concierge# to get support and guidance before and after your hospital stay. Call 1800 789 414 between 9am—5pm AEST (Mon-Fri). Just be sure to have your Medibank membership details ready.

Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service

Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice. 

Looking for something else?

Visit our Hospital Assist homepage for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your hospital journey.

Help the way you want it

display /general / emergency-40 Created with Sketch.

Contact us 

Call us on 134 190 to speak to a consultant. Alternatively, chat to us 24/7 online.

display /general / compass-40 Created with Sketch.

Self-service options

Login to MyMedibank or Download the MyMedibank App for self service options.

display /general / find-40 Created with Sketch.

Find a specialist

Find a specialist or Member's choice hospital using our find a provider tool.

Things you need to know

#   Health Concierge is available to all eligible Medibank members who hold hospital cover. Excludes Overseas Visitor Health Cover, Working Visa Health Cover and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

~    OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees). 

Have questions?

Our team of experts are ready to help!

Enter your postcode to find your nearest store to have a face-to-face chat!

Fill in the form below or get in touch by calling our dedicated line 1300 110 086.
We are open on Sundays.

In providing your telephone number, you consent to Medibank contacting you about health insurance.

We'll have someone call you soon to help with any questions you have.

contact us