Appendicitis and Children

„Mommy my tummy hurts.“ Parents who associate those words with too many sweets, other false eating habits or diarrhea are usually right. But if your child complains of pain over several hours and doesn’t let you touch his stomach, then the problem could lie with the appendix. Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, the little extension at the top of the large intestine, and usually develops very suddenly. While mostly affecting children and adolescents, it can also occur in adults.

How does appendicitis develop?

Normaly through a backup of feces, scars, foreign obhects or through ovarian infection (Adnexitis).

How can you tell if it is appendicitis?

Take your child immediately to the doctor or hospital if  your child complains about pain, sensitivity of the stomach area, or cramping pains in the right lower part of the tummy, and if the pain lasts longer than three hours. The pain also can occur in the upper part of the stomach and around the navel before migrating to the lower right part of the stomach. The pains increase with sudden movement, hopping around for instance, and in some cases even walking hurts, with your child wanting to be carried.

Other possible symptons are lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting, light fever.

Infants often do not display typical syptoms. A late diagnosis increases the risk of complications.

When to visit a doctor

  • Immediately if tummy pains last and and are otherwise unexplainable
  • Immediately if the pains migrate to the lower part of the stomach
  • If the stomach feels hard
  • If your child becomes increasingly distressed due to the stomach pains

How is appedicitis treated?

Only through an operation, in which the appendix is removed in hospital under general anesthetic. A scar of up to 6 centimeters on the right side underneath the navel is left by the operation. After the surgical procedure, the patient is not allowed to eat or drink and is fed through a drip. After 48 hours, the child can start eating light food if no complications have arisen.  Children generally recover quickly and can go home after a few days.