Detecting Appendicitis in Children

Posted: Jan 17 in Surgery Blog tagged by Staff

When a child presents symptoms of abdominal discomfort, one of the conditions that should be considered is appendicitis, or inflammation of the appendix. Not diagnosing it soon enough can cause complications. However, this is not always easy because some children do not experience all the classic symptoms.

Here’s what to look for to determine if it is time to bring your child into your physician to ask about appendicitis:

Pain that begins as general discomfort in the middle of the abdomen is one common sign of appendicitis. The pain grows stronger and can move to the child’s right side. To help with diagnosis, apply pressure to the lower right abdomen and then quickly release it. If the pain gets worse when you release the pressure, they may have a case of appendicitis.

A low-grade fever (below 101) sometimes accompanies an early case of appendicitis. If the problem is not diagnosed in a timely manner and is allowed to continue, the appendix can become perforated, at which time a higher fever can develop. Perforations are also more common in children younger than 7.

Vomiting occasionally begins in association with appendicitis after the child first complains of discomfort or pain, but generally does not develop prior to the pain. Young children can experience severe and repeated vomiting as well as a loss of appetite. If vomiting does not go away after 24 hours, and is not accompanied by diarrhea and other common symptoms of a viral infection, then contact your physician to evaluate your child’s appendix.

Other common symptoms of appendicitis include coughing and problems walking. Appendicitis in children is uncommon, especially for those younger than 5. There are more cases among young people 10 to 17 years old, but even then they amount to only about 25 cases for every 10,000 children. That’s why it’s important to know the symptoms so a child who does have appendicitis is diagnosed before it becomes much worse.

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