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Health Information For Parents
The appendix is a small organ attached to the large intestine in the lower right side of the belly. When it gets infected, it’s called appendicitis.
Appendicitis is an emergency. It’s important to know what to look for and get medical care right away.
The first signs of appendicitis are often a mild fever and pain around the belly button. It might seem like just a stomachache. But with appendicitis, the pain usually gets worse and moves to the lower right side of the belly.
If your child has belly pain, be on the lookout for these signs of appendicitis:
If pain spreads across the belly, it may mean the appendix has burst. Doctors call this ruptured appendicitis, and it’s serious. A high fever reaching 104°F (40°C) is another sign of a burst appendix.
Call your doctor right away if you think your child has appendicitis. The sooner it’s caught, the easier it will be to treat.
If an infected appendix isn’t removed, it has the potential to burst about 48 to 72 hours after symptoms first start. This can spread
inside the body. The infection might form a large collection of pus (an abscess) or spread throughout the belly.
Appendicitis mostly affects kids and teens between 5 and 20 years old. It is rare in infants.
When the appendix gets blocked, too much bacteria can grow and cause an infection. Some of the things that might block the appendix are:
Appendicitis is not contagious. Kids can’t catch it from someone who has it.
The symptoms of appendicitis can be a lot like those of other medical problems (like kidney stones, pneumonia, or a urinary tract infection). So it can be a challenge for doctors to diagnose.
To find out if a child has appendicitis, a doctor will examine the belly for signs of pain and tenderness. The doctor will order blood tests and urine tests. Some kids also get an X-ray of the abdomen and chest, an ultrasound, or a CAT scan.
The medical team may tell you not to give your child any food or drink. This is in case your child needs surgery.
A surgeon will operate to take out the infected appendix. This is called an appendectomy. Most of the time, surgeons use a small device called a
to remove the appendix through a small cut on the belly. Kids who get this surgery usually stay in the hospital for a day.
The care team may give your child intravenous (IV) fluids and antibiotics before and after surgery. This helps prevent problems such as an infection. Kids get pain medicine if they need it.
A child who had a burst appendix might need to stay in the hospital longer after an appendectomy. That gives the antibiotics time to kill any bacteria that spread into the body.
There is no way to prevent appendicitis. But when kids get the right medical care quickly, doctors usually find and treat it without problems.
An abscess is a sign of an infection, usually on the skin. Find out what to do if your child develops one.
Most vomiting is caused by gastroenteritis, and usually isn’t serious. These home-care tips can help prevent dehydration.
Fevers happen when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above normal. This is often the body’s way of fighting infections.
Good preparation can help your child feel less anxious about getting surgery. Kids of all ages cope much better if they have an idea of what’s going to happen and why.
An abdominal CAT scan can detect inflammation, infection, injury or disease in the liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, stomach, bowel, pancreas, adrenal glands, blood vessels, and lymph nodes.
An abdominal X-ray can help find the cause of many abdominal problems, such as pain, kidney stones, intestinal blockage, a hole in the intestine, or an abdominal mass such as a tumor.
Doctors order abdominal ultrasounds when they’re concerned about symptoms such as abdominal pain, repeated vomiting, abnormal liver or kidney function tests, or a swollen belly.
Ugh. Bellyaches. Find out what causes tummy trouble in this article for kids.
Peritonitis is when the tissue that covers the inside wall of abdomen gets swollen and irritated, usually due to an infection.
Knowing what to expect with surgery before you get to the hospital can make you less anxious about your surgical experience – and less stress helps a person recover faster.
Surgeries and operations happen in the operating room, sometimes called the OR. Find out more in this article for kids.
A hernia is an opening or weakness in the wall of a muscle, tissue, or membrane that normally holds an organ in place. Learning to prevent hernias isn’t hard to do – check out these tips.
It may seem scary to go to a hospital, but doctors and nurses are there to help people who are sick or hurt feel better. Read our article for kids to find out what happens inside a hospital.
Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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