When a child falls ill it can sometimes be hard to determine the actual problem. Often children have a hard time describing exactly what is bothering them or just how severe the pain really is. This makes our job as parents a little hard at times. What can be mistaken as a regular stomach ache or virus could actually be some more serious. For this reason it is important to learn the signs of appendicitis so you can distinguish whether or not you should give your child a dose of stomach meds or get them to the nearest doctor’s office as soon as possible.
Appendicitis is caused when the appendix becomes inflamed. The appendix is a small organ that is located in the lower right side of the stomach. It has an opening that attaches to the large intestine. If the opening becomes blocked the appendix can become full of dangerous bacteria and it can swell. If it swells too much it can actually burst, spreading the bacteria throughout the surrounding areas of the body and leading to serious infection. Once the symptoms of appendicitis begin, it is vital to get medical help immediately. An appendix can burst anywhere from 24 to 72hours after symptoms are noticed. Although most cases of appendicitis in children range from ages 11 to 20, it can occur in children of all ages. Children under the age of 4 who have appendicitis are more likely to have a rupture of the appendix because the warning signs are harder to detect the younger the child is.
One of the major signs of appendicitis in children includes abdominal pain starting near the belly button area. It can also move to the lower right side of the stomach where the appendix is located. The pain can begin dull and infrequent before intensifying and becoming a sharper more consistent pain. The stomach pain may be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. The stomach may also appear swollen and bloated. A swollen abdomen may be more obvious in infants and small children with appendicitis.
Another warning sign of appendicitis is a having a low-grade fever. If a fever is accompanied by the stomach pain described above then it could be appendicitis. If the appendix ruptures the fever may shoot up as high as 104 degrees. Other signs are loss of appetite and a possible urge to urinate more frequently. Sometimes children will complain about pain in other areas of the body such as the hip. They may also have a hard time walking once the pain becomes more severe. Although symptoms may be hard to distinguish as being appendicitis, it is important to get any of these signs and symptoms checked out.
In order to treat appendicitis quickly and effectively before it ruptures you need to have your child seen as soon as possible. Once your child has been seen by a doctor and appendicitis has been diagnosed, you can expect your child to need an appendectomy. This is a surgical procedure that involves removing the appendix before it ruptures. After the appendix has been removed your child may need to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days to ensure a full recovery. If the appendix has already ruptured, an appendectomy is still required, however a longer hospital stay may be necessary after surgery so that antibiotics may be administered intravenously clearing the body of dangerous bacteria before the patient goes home.
Dealing with appendicitis in children is a very serious matter. A ruptured appendix can result in death if not treated immediately, therefore if your child is showing any of the signs of appendicitis listed above you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
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