From the medical standpoint, while the appendix – which is a narrow, finger-shaped, hollow structure attached to the large intestine – serves no purpose in humans, it can however cause serious problems when it becomes inflamed – known as appendicitis.
Most common in young children over six years of age, appendicitis can occur in younger children as well. A potentially life-threatening problem, it’s extremely vital for a parent to recognize the signs and symptoms of appendicitis in their children.
The book, “Caring For Your Baby And Young Children,” list these symptoms in order of their appearance:
1.) Abdominal Pain – Almost always felt around the umbilicus (or belly button), this is usually the first thing your child complains about. The infection usually worsens after several hours, as the symptoms progress.
In the event the appendix is not located in the usual position, the discomfort may occur elsewhere in the abdomen or in the back. In addition, there may be urinary symptoms such as increased urination or urination accompanied with burning.
The pain may also irritate the muscles that lead toward the leg, causing the child to limp or walk bent over.
2.) Regurgitating – After several hours of pain have passed, regurgitationor vomiting may occur. It is vital to note that in appendicitis, vomiting always proceeds a stomachache, not vice-versa.
3.) Appetite Loss – Shortly after the onset of pain, the absence of hunger is present.
4.) Fever – A low-grade fever of 100-101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38-38.5 degrees Celsius may occur as well.
Under certain circumstances, the symptoms associated with appendicitis at times may be hidden by preceding bacterial or viral infections. Symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting may very well appear before the typical pain of appendicitis, and may make the diagnosis that much more difficult.
In addition, your child’s discomfort may vanish all of a sudden, leading one to believe that all is well. Unfortunately, this could signify that the appendix has already burst! Though the pain may recede for several hours, this is when appendicitis becomes dangerous.
It is at this juncture, that the infection will spread to the rest of the child’s abdomen, causing your child to become increasingly ill, develop a higher fever, and require hospitalization (for intravenous antibiotics and surgery, meaning a longer recovery period and more complications). Therefore, it is vital to get an accurate diagnoses and early treatment.
Realistically, detecting signs of appendicitis is not always easy. Therefore, it is better to act sooner rather than later when you feel that your child’s discomfort is a little out of the ordinary.
Consequently, if your child’s abdominal pain persist for more than an hour or two, and it is accompanied with loss of appetite nausea, vomiting, and fever, notify your child’s pediatrician immediately.