What is Appendicitis?

The appendix is an organ attached to the large intestine in a way that it opens into it. It is long and narrow in shape, like a finger. It is located in the abdomen, in the lower part. Appendicitis is when the appendix gets inflamed. Appendicitis in children, and even in adults, is caused when something gets stuck in the opening which causes swelling. The appendix gets infected this way and it causes bacteria to settle in. Therefore, its removal then becomes necessary otherwise it can burst and infect other parts of the abdomen as well. This can be very damaging to one's health as bacteria spreads inside the body.

Children and Appendicitis

Kids caLocation of the AppendixCredit: Wikipedian get appendicitis between 11 and 20 years of age. Even though it is common in kids of that age, it is very rare for infants to get appendicitis. Studies have shown that most children get it in the months from October to May. It isn’t exactly genetic but studies have also shown that male children who got affected sometimes had a family history of appendicitis.

Due to the harm that it can cause to other body parts, especially the abdomen, appendicitis needs to be medically treated immediately. Thus, it has become important for people with children to learn the symptoms of appendicitis so that they can differentiate between that and a normal stomach ache. This way they can take their child to get treated without wasting any precious time.

The symptoms of appendicitis in children include:

•    Bloating of the abdomen
•    Inability to accept food orally and changes in appetite
•    Nausea
•    Vomiting
•    Fever
•    Diarrhea
•    A need to urinate after every short while
•    Pain around the bellybutton or below that area
•    Constipation
•    Worsening of the pain felt around the bellybutton or below. The pain tends to move lower and to the right side.

However, the symptoms are prone to some variance, depending on the age of the child. Even though it’s quite rare, children under the age of 2 can also have appendicitis. The symptoms for these toddlers include bloating, swollen abdomens and appendix pain. If you can detect these symptoms on your own, it is advised that you consult a doctor or pediatrician immediately and refrain from feeding anything to your child without asking the doctor first. Not even medications should be given to children without consulting the doctor.  If treatment starts immediately, the intensity of pain is lower and the patient does not have to suffer too much. The later it gets, the worse the situation gets and the harder it becomes to treat the appendicitis.

The treatment of appendicitis is not too complex. There is no real way of preventing appendicitis in children, but it can surely be cured with the right kind of medical attention. The most important thing is to diagnose it in the early stages so that there are no complications and the courses of antibiotics and medical tests can begin.

Immediate treatment is highly necessary because, if left untreated, the appendix is prone to bursting and spreading the bacteria in the abdomen of the child. This can lead to a sudden rise in body temperature and fevers can reach up to a shocking 104 degrees Fahrenheit. There can be severe damage to health as well. Hence, urgent surgeries are required for appendicitis patients. The time within which the appendix can burst varies from 1 to 3 days.

Diagnosis of Appendicitis

There are many different symptoms of appendicitis. However, it sometimes gets difficult for doctors to diagnose it even with all these symptoms because they can be present for other illnesses and conditions too. So to be sure, doctors take a physical checkup of the abdomen to see if there is any tenderness or if pain can be felt there. In addition to the physical checkup, urine tests and blood tests are also taken and so are abdomen and chest X-rays. In some cases, CAT scans are also done when the situation seems ambiguous. When it becomes clear that the child has appendicitis for sure, the doctor tells the parents to start preparing for surgery. Any intake of food and liquids is stopped for the child.

Treatment of Appendicitis

The treatment of appendicitis is quite simple. A surgery is performed whereby the doctor removes the infected appendix from the child’s body through making an incision. The oral intake of fluids and solid food is usually avoided right after surgery until the child gets better. Instead, intravenous methods are used to give nourishment and energy. This is to avoid any further complications and infections. If the appendix has burst before the surgery could be performed, antibiotics are fed to the child to kill the bacteria that has infected the body. It might take a longer time to recover in such a case. Pain killers may be given to the child, depending on the intensity of the pain. Children are usually taken back home after a 2 to 3 day stay at the hospital.