Children naturally fall susceptible to many common childhood illnesses. Much of this is just nature's way of building immunity in their body. Occasionally, they can be stricken with a more serious ailment. One such condition common in children and teenagers is appendicitis. Here is what you need to know.
Who Gets Appendicitis?
Most often, the child will be over two years of age. It isn't very common in babies or after the age of 30
. For unknown reasons, appendicitis seems to strike boys more often than girls, and there are indications that the condition may run in families.
What Causes Appendicitis?
The appendix is a small tube that resides at the end of the large intestine. It can become impacted or clogged by fecal matter, a foreign object, such as in a small child who has swallowed something they shouldn't have and it becomes lodged, or the appendix may simply become twisted, which can lead to necrosis. The appendix becomes inflamed and requires surgery to remove.
What Are The Symptoms Of Appendicitis?
Your child may complain of tummy pain, which is usually located around the belly button. As the inflammation increases, the pain usually moves down and to the right of the naval. If the area is compressed, the pain will usually increase. Additionally, the child will have no appetite. There may also be nausea and vomiting, as well as a fever, but the belly pain will start first.
What Conditions May Be Confused For Appendicitis?
Common gastrointestinal viruses, such as the flu, may mimic the symptoms of appendicitis. Chronic constipation may also cause belly pain in the belly button area. A urinary tract infection may also feel to a small child like generalized tummy pain. In the case of an adolescent female, the pain may be related to the reproductive system and should be ruled out.
How Is Appendicitis Diagnosed?
If your child presents to his primary care pediatric doctor or emergency room physician with abdominal pain, the doctor will feel the child's belly to get a better idea for the exact location of the pain. A rectal exam may also be performed. The age and the sex of the child will also dictate what tests the doctor decides to run. A blood test to check the white blood cell count, which when elevated is usually indicative of infection, is a common lab test.
How Is Appendicitis Treated?
If an inflamed appendix is determined to be the cause of the belly pain, the appendix will be removed, usually by laparoscopy rather than an open abdominal surgery.
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