The illness that sent Steph Rice home from the US

Image: Instagram

All holidays have to come to an end eventually – but falling sick is possibly the worst way to bring the fun to a halt.

That’s exactly what happened to Stephanie Rice this week. The Olympic gold medallist has been on a working holiday in the US and – judging by her happy snaps on Instagram – having an all-round swell time hiking, biking, beaching and eating all manner of delicious things.

However, the 26-year-old swimmer was forced to come home two weeks early, after developing appendicitis and having emergency surgery. Steph shared her ordeal on Instagram last night, along with a photo:

“Not the ideal end to my US trip but finally heading home. I went to hospital 3 days ago with stomach pains which turned out to be appendicitis, which needed emergency surgery. It was all a bit scary, more so being in a different country and not having anyone there but I was so overwhelmed with the support and generosity from my new American friends.”

Makes the usual travel complaints like 'bad plane food' seem pretty trivial, doesn't it?

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Appendicitis is a common yet serious condition, characterised by an inflammation of the appendix - a small pouch attached to the large intestine with no confirmed function in the body. The inflammation is usually caused by infection or a blockage. Not only is the swelling incredibly painful, but it requires urgent medical attention - usually surgery to remove the appendix.

The symptoms of appendicitis often develop quickly, and include:

- abdominal pain - usually a dull pain starting around your bellybutton and that becomes sharp as it moves to the lower-right abdomen

- nausea and/or vomiting that develops after the abdominal pain

- high or low fever, along with chills and shaking

- back pain

- constipation or diarrhoea

- loss of appetite.

It's important to seek medical help quickly, because if the appendix ruptures it can caused inflammation in the lining of the abdomen.

We wish Steph a speedy recovery - and another overseas trip soon.

Have you ever had appendicitis?