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1/22/24 blog post

when to be concerned about appendix pain

child with appendix pain

in this article:

The appendix is a small, finger-like tube that is attached to the large intestine in the lower right side of the belly. When the appendix gets blocked and becomes infected, appendicitis occurs.

Appendicitis requires immediate emergency care, so we asked Dr. Elisabeth Wynne, pediatric surgeon at Dayton Children's Hospital to help us know what to look for so we can seek medical attention as soon as possible.

what are the signs and symptoms of appendicitis?

At first, it might seem like your child has a tummy ache, but when paired with other symptoms, it may be an indication of appendicitis.

Symptoms include:

  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal tenderness (especially moving from the belly button to the lower right side)
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

what causes appendicitis?

Appendicitis is caused by a blockage in the appendix. When the appendix is blocked, bacteria begin to grow and can cause inflammation and an infection. Below are a few conditions that may result in a blockage in the appendix:

  • Hard poop
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the intestines
  • Tapeworm
  • Other infections

when should I seek medical attention for my child?

Appendicitis should not be taken lightly. If your child's pain has spread from the

belly button across to the right lower side of the abdomen, along with other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or fever, they should be evaluated by a medical professional. If appendicitis is left untreated the appendix can burst (perforate) and cause a larger infection in the belly.

If your child experiences severe abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, fever or any of the other symptoms mentioned above, seek medical attention.

how is appendicitis diagnosed?

Appendicitis is diagnosed by a physician with a thorough health history and physical examination. Other studies may be performed including imaging (like an ultrasound or CT scan) and laboratory studies to see the appendix and determine the extent of the infection.

how do you treat appendicitis?

Appendicitis is treated with antibiotics to treat the infection and typically removal of the appendix with surgery. Your child's surgeon will discuss the treatment options and help determine the best treatment for your child.



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Elisabeth Wynne, MD

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