Children often complain about tummy aches for a wide variety of reasons, from mild sickness to nervousness about going back to school. In case their stomach pain does have a more serious cause, it’s important to know when it’s time to take them to the pediatrician.
Continue reading for warning signs of appendicitis in children, so that the next time they complain about a stomach ache, you’ll know what steps to take.
Ruling out Appendicitis
If your child comes to you with a tummy ache, first pay attention to his or her activity levels. Have these changed at all? Even if he or she complains about a stomach ache, it’s not likely to be appendicitis if you see the child laughing, eating, and running around shortly after. However, if your child has slowed down or perhaps is bent over in pain, then it’s time to seek medical attention right away.
Note the following symptoms commonly associated with appendicitis:
- Severe pain that starts at the navel and moves to the right side of the abdomen
- Low-grade fever
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloated abdomen
- Pain when putting pressure on the abdomen
- Difficulty walking normally due to pain. Often bends forward, hunched over.
- If you ask the child to hop up and down, they will have sharp pain in the right lower abdomen when they land, or they will refuse to hop (anticipating pain).
Appendicitis pain can come on slowly over a few days, but if left untreated, the appendix can rupture as quickly as within 24 hours after symptoms begin. A ruptured appendix is very dangerous. It is important to understand the differences between appendicitis and other stomach ailments, so that you can seek immediate treatment when necessary.
Appendicitis Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis can be difficult in younger children especially. Many children commonly come down with gastroenteritis and respiratory illnesses, both of which can have similar symptoms to appendicitis. However, gastroenteritis is characterized by severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea that stop as quickly as they start. If you are unsure, it is always better to have a pediatrician examine your child.
To correctly diagnose, doctors will look for tenderness in the abdomen, often accompanied by blood and urine tests. If it’s appendicitis, they’ll perform an appendectomy soon after the diagnosis to remove the inflamed appendix and prevent further infection. Following a few days in the hospital, children should be back on their feet and running around in no time.
At Woodburn Pediatric Clinic, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive diagnoses and care for our diverse set of patients. If you would like to know more about common childhood ailments like appendicitis or need to schedule a checkup for your child, contact our office today.