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What is Grumbling Appendicitis?

By Solomon Branch
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Grumbling appendicitis, more commonly referred to as chronic appendicitis, is characterized by mild pain in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen and is the result of inflammation of the appendix, a small extension of the colon. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection and is rarer than the more severe form of appendicitis, referred to as acute appendicitis. Grumbling appendicitis usually lasts for three or more weeks before it gets painful enough to see a doctor.

The appendix is attached to the cecum, which is the first section of the large intestine, also referred to as the colon. It is found at the junction of the small intestine and colon and is prone to problems, such as infection, in some people. No one is sure why it is there, but it is believed to have served a purpose at one time in human history and was rendered meaningless by evolution.

Unlike acute appendicitis, which occurs rapidly and with a lot of pain, grumbling appendicitis starts off as mild pain and builds up over a period of weeks. The pain usually begins in the area of the umbilicus and gradually moves to the area between the top of the pelvic bone and the navel. Other symptoms can include loss of appetite, pain on exertion of the abdomen, digestion issues, and nausea. Vomiting will occasionally occur in the later stages.

Diagnosis for grumbling appendicitis usually begins by pressing the area between the navel and pelvic bone to test for pain. If pain is felt when the hand is removed, it is a good sign grumbling appendicitis is present. The next step is usually an abdominal computer tomography (CT) scan to detect for abnormalities in the appendix.

If the diagnosis is determined to be grumbling appendicitis, treatment usually consists of a round of antibiotics to kill any infection. This may last for several weeks and be a very high dosage so as to prevent the onset of acute appendicitis. If this doesn’t work, surgery may be performed to remove the appendix.

Although grumbling appendicitis has a slow onset, it can turn into acute appendicitis. If symptoms such as severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and a high fever occur, it is considered an emergency because the appendix may burst. Surgery will need to done to immediately remove the appendix because if it bursts, it can infect the abdominal cavity and quickly lead to death.

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Discussion Comments

By anon352438 — On Oct 22, 2013

I had mine out two months ago.

About three months prior, my cat jumped off a shelf above my bed. This was about a four foot drop and he weighs about 14 lbs. Bless his heart, his front feet hit square on where my appendix is because I was flat on my back falling asleep. It was instant sharp pain, as you can imagine. It was terribly sore for days, but it subsided. I felt terrible after that for weeks. I asked my doctor if it could have damaged my appendix and he said no. Well, I think it did. So we agreed to disagree.

He was a great surgeon. My incision is small and very straight. It healed really well.

By anon322819 — On Mar 01, 2013

Does chronic appendicitis show up on a blood test or ultrasound or not?

By anon301670 — On Nov 05, 2012

My son had grumbling appendicitis, I believe. His stomach was growling like he was hungry but his right side was very tender. We went to emergency on Thursday last week, and sure enough, they did an ultrasound and confirmed it was appendicitis. They said he had to have it removed asap. It was very scary. The doctor told us originally there would be three pinhole incisions, one for the camera and the other two for instruments. If they couldn't removed the appendix that way - he would make a small incision. He told us it would take an hour. We waited for 2 1/2 hours.

The doctor said when he opened up my son, there was so much swelling that they removed part of his colon also. He is young -- 22 -- and the doctor said he would be fine. He was in recovery until the next day when they released him at noon and we went home. About four on Friday, the doctor called my son and said they 'missed' a piece of his appendix, which often happens when they are as swollen as his were. He told my son it was a simple operation, that he would just reopen the pin incisions and remove it. They prepped him and he went in at 10. By 11:30 we still had not heard anything so I called the recovery room, and no, he was still in surgery. Two and a half hours later, the doctor came out and sat down. My heart dropped.

He said that when they went in with the scope they saw his belly was full of blood and couldn't find where it originated. They believe now a staple got loose and ruptured. It took them some time to stop the bleeding and repair. They had to make another incision from his belly button down to his hairline.

He was in mortal pain, of course and they monitored him. Finally today, he was allowed to shower and get up and walk around, and then they released him.

My question is this: has anyone ever heard of this missing a piece? I mean, thank God the doctor realized this because my son could've lay down to sleep and never woken up. He would've bled out.

By Penzance356 — On Aug 05, 2011

My colleague is currently in hospital after having his appendix removed. He had signs of appendicitis on the horizon for a while, and from what he said, the term 'grumbling' is perfect.

Likening it to a grouchy old relative that pops up from time to time to annoy you - but eases off before you show them the door - I can see how you'd just be thankful the pain was gone and ignore it.

A few days ago he started to feel really unwell and finally sought medical treatment. The symptoms seem similar to food poisioning or a general upset stomach, so it's easy to be misled.

I think the best option is always to remove the appendix, even if it is still at the grumbling stage. Why risk it getting more serious and leaving you with peritonitis?

By bluespirit — On Aug 04, 2011

@tomislav - Unfortunately the answer to the question, "How do you get appendicitis?" does not really help you in avoiding getting appendicitis.

From what I can remember the causes were the appendix being blocked by feces or maybe a tumor. I do not know enough about how those things happen to say appendicitis can be avoided!

By Tomislav — On Aug 04, 2011

@alfredo - That is great to know that you should not ignore the symptoms of appendicitis but what about avoiding it all together by knowing how you get appendicitis, and avoiding the causes.

By aLFredo — On Aug 04, 2011

@saraq90 - There is such a thing as just simply appendicitis. Because another term for grumbling appendicitis is chronic appendicitis, I think that the main difference is that chronic appendicitis' symptoms would need to last for weeks as described in the article.

I wonder if it is common to ignore the signs of appendicitis such as the pain around your belly button or in that quadrant of your stomach as described in the article as I have also heard of appendixes rupturing.

I have also read that your pain actually lessens when your appendix ruptures but then gets worse so note to self - best to catch the appendix pain as pre-bursting pain is better than post-bursting pain!

By Saraq90 — On Aug 03, 2011

I had one friend you had a burst appendix, now I wonder if she had a grumbling appendix for a while before she reached that stage.

Is there such a thing as just appendicitis or is there only a grumbling appendix and then acute appendicitis. Or is grumbling the word for just appendicitis?

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