What to do if your child has appendicitis

Caring For Our Kids

An intense, sudden pain in the stomach can be scary, especially for children. It could be an appendicitis, which requires surgery to recover. Appendicitis is one of the most common reasons for emergency abdominal surgery in kids, so it’s important to know the signs.

Dr. Kristin Farr with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital says appendicitis most often affects those between the ages of 11 and 20, but can happen to younger children too.

Call your doctor immediately if your child shows signs of appendicitis, including significant abdominal pain, especially around the belly button or lower right side of abdomen, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and a low-grade fever that begins after other symptoms.

If untreated, the inflamed appendix can burst 24 to 72 hours after symptoms begin. A ruptured appendix can spread bacteria and infection through the body.

Farr says appendicitis can be tough to diagnose, but a new ultrasound tool can be helpful to emergency room doctors. Emergency surgery will be required and prep for surgery includes no food or drink. Their hospital stay may be a couple days.

According to Farr, the appendix has no known purpose and once removed, the child’s body will function just fine.

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