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Child care: Appendicitis

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Appendicitis develops once the appendix is swollen and inflamed. The appendix is basically an extension of the colon. In most cases, an obstruction inside the appendix causes an infection that can result to bacterial overgrowth. An issue of concern is when the appendix ruptures and the infection spreads into the abdominal cavity.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Since the appendix is positioned in the lower right region of the abdomen, a vital symptom to observe is low abdominal pain. This often starts around the belly button area and radiates to the lower right side. Other symptoms that can manifest include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain or increase in the frequency in urination
  • Low grade fever
    Since the appendix is positioned in the lower right region of the abdomen, a vital symptom to observe is low abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea

Always bear in mind that appendicitis is considered as the most common cause of emergency abdominal surgery during childhood. Cases of ruptured appendicitis are quite common among children below 5 years old.


The indicative signs of appendicitis include a history of pain in the right inferior region of the abdomen that is followed by vomiting, low grade fever and stiffness. In most cases, an ultrasound or CT scan of the abdomen is performed. In addition, a urine test and blood test are also required.


The treatment involves the surgical removal of the infected appendix. In some circumstances, once the appendix has ruptured, surgery is carried out after a period of treatment involving antibiotics.

During surgery

The doctor will administer anesthesia to bring on sleep. In case a laparoscopic procedure is utilized, the surgeon utilizes a small instrument with a camera that is inserted via small-sized incisions. Oftentimes, a slightly larger incision is required to take out the organ.

The appendix is removed and the infected fluid is cleared out of the abdominal cavity. In some cases, drains are placed to promote drainage of the infected fluid. The surgery generally takes less than an hour.

After surgery

The typical length of stay is 12-24 hours for simple appendicitis. As for a ruptured case, it can take 5-7 days. The child is given intravenous pain medications and antibiotics while hospitalized.

The oral feedings are started in a steady manner, usually starting with clear liquids. The child will gradually move on to a regular diet. Take note that there is a dressing over the incision site.

The child is considered ready for discharge when he/she can eat a regular diet, has no fever, there is no drainage from the incision site and has normal bowel movements.

After discharge

In most cases, the child might require a few days of rest at home before he/she can return to school. It is best to wait for 2-4 weeks before returning to sports depending on the degree of inflammation.

When to seek medical care

After surgery, expect minimal swelling around the incision site. Take note that this is normal. On the other hand, a doctor should be consulted if the child develops any of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Excessive redness, swelling or drainage from the incision site
  • Increasing pain

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