Appendicitis in Children: Common Symptoms and Warning Signs
Oct 03, 2016 04:10PM ● Published by Dia
Appendicitis occurs in approximately 80,000 children annually in the United States. Thirty percent of people with appendicitis suffer a ruptured appendix, and ruptured appendixes are more common in patients less than 5 years of age.
Appendicitis occurs most frequently between the ages of 10 and 20 years of age. Fifty percent of children who have appendicitis have a family history of it.
Given these statistics, it’s easy to see how important recognizing the common symptoms and warning signs of appendicitis in children is.
Common Symptoms and Signs
The most common symptom is pain in the lower right side of the stomach, where the appendix is. The appendix is an extension of the colon. Appendicitis occurs when appendix becomes infected, and often inflamed as a consequence. Appendicitis sometimes occurs where there is blockage, and excessive bacteria grow as a result.
The pain in the lower right side of the stomach may begin near the belly button and move down, or may begin lower.
There are a number of other possible symptoms as well. They are:
- Pain that worsens if your children coughs, walks, or makes any other sudden movement
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- low-grade fever
- bloat in the abdomen
- tenderness in the affected area
- rigidity in the affected area
- diarrhea (after several days)
- pain or increase in urination
A ruptured appendix results in the bacteria moving into the abdomen rather than being contained in the appendix. A ruptured appendix is extremely dangerous, and its consequences, including blood poisoning, can be fatal.
What to Do If Your Child Has Symptoms
If your child is experiencing pain in the stomach, seek medical attention immediately.
If the other symptoms are not accompanied by abdominal pain, it is wise to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
There is no one conclusive test that can help your doctor diagnose appendicitis. The diagnosis is commonly done with several tests, including imaging (computer tomography or ultrasound), blood, and urine tests.
If your doctor does diagnose appendicitis, surgery is done to remove the appendix. The surgery, known as an appendectomy, takes approximately one hour.
The hospital stay for children is usually one to two days.
If the appendix has ruptured, the stay can be five to seven days.
In both cases, the surgery is accompanied by a regimen of antibiotic drugs to eliminate the infection thoroughly. Be sure that your child completes the entire course prescribed.
After your child comes home, they will require bed rest of one to two days. It will be several weeks before they can resume gym activities or sports. Check with your physician for the exact timelines.
Dr. Jeffrey Peebles, M.D. has an extensive amount of experience in delivering advanced emergency care. He is board certified with the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians/Texas College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Peebles is committed to providing timely, affordable and high-quality medical care to the Southlake community.