Stomach pain in kids

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Appendicitis for Kids

Appendicitis in kids is a prevalent cause of abdominal surgery during childhood. This disease affects more than 70,000 kids in the United States yearly. Early detection and treatment are crucial to prevent this disease from developing into a life-threatening condition.

We have compiled the most popular questions parents and guardians have about appendicitis in kids in this post. Read on to find out more about this disease.

What Is Appendicitis in Kids?

Appendicitis is a painful inflammatory disease that occurs when your kid’s appendix becomes infected or inflamed. On the right side of the abdomen, hidden under the large intestine, is the appendix, a small tubular organ. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix begins to swell and causes severe pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. Appendicitis is most common in teenagers and young adults under the age of 20. 

How Often does Appendicitis Affect Kids?

In the United States, 70,000 children suffer from appendicitis every year. It most commonly affects children between the ages of 10 and 19. Most abdominal emergency surgery among children is due to appendicitis.

What Causes Appendicitis for Kids?

When something fills the interior of your kid’s appendix, causing it to swell, such as mucus, stool, or parasites, appendicitis can occur. Afterwards, your child’s appendix becomes inflamed and irritated. As the swelling and irritation increase, the blood supply to the appendix decreases. 

A healthy body part requires adequate blood flow. As blood flow to the appendix is reduced, the tissue begins to die. As holes develop in the walls of the appendix, mucus, stool, and other contents will leak into the abdomen and cause a rupture (or perforation). A peritonitis infection occurs inside the abdomen when the appendix ruptures.

What are the Symptoms of Appendicitis for Kids?

Appendicitis is identified by abdominal pain in the lower right area of your child’s abdomen. Usually, the pain starts near your child’s belly button and eventually moves to your child’s right lower side. The below symptoms may also be observed:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • changes in behavior
  • fever and chills
  • diarrhea or constipation

Is Appendicitis in Kids a Concern?

In clinical terms, appendicitis pain in kids can result from the gradual onset of symptoms over a few days. However, if left untreated, the appendix can rupture as soon as 24 hours after symptoms appear. There are many dangers associated with ruptured appendices. 

For instance, the rupture of the appendix can cause bacteria to enter the abdominal cavity and cause peritonitis. If a diagnosis is delayed, a bacterial infection can spread quickly and become harder to treat.

When Should You See a Doctor for Appendicitis for Kids?

You should see a doctor if the pain is felt across your kid’s belly. The pain your kid feels across their belly may be due to a ruptured appendix. A ruptured appendix is a critical situation. Immediately your notice the pain, contact Post Oak ER. Another reason to visit Post Oak ER in appendicitis for kids is when they have a high fever of 104°F (40°C), indicating a ruptured or burst appendix.

How is Appendicitis for Kids Diagnosed?

When you take your kid to Post Oak ER for diagnosis, one of our attending doctors will examine your child’s belly for signs of pain and tenderness to determine if they have appendicitis. In addition to ordering blood tests, the doctor will also order urine tests. Other procedures include ultrasounds, CAT scans, and abdominal and chest X-rays. The doctor may recommend that you shouldn’t give your child food or liquid if surgery is required.

What are the Treatments for Appendicitis for Kids?

Appendicitis for kids can sometimes be treated purely with antibiotics. Most often, however, your child’s appendix has to be removed to treat appendicitis. A surgical procedure to remove the appendix is an appendectomy. There are two ways to perform appendectomies:

  • Laparoscopic: This procedure uses special instruments inserted through small incisions near the belly button. This minimally invasive appendectomy is less painful compared to open surgery. 
  • Laparotomy (open): For this procedure, your child’s lower right abdomen is incised in one larger incision. More complicated appendicitis often requires this type of surgery. It takes longer to recover.

Your child must be diagnosed and treated early for appendicitis. Early detection can help prevent complications, improve recovery, and save lives. Your kid’s doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your kid’s appendicitis.