Appendicitis Symptoms & Causes

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What are appendicitis symptoms in children?

The following are the most common symptoms of appendicitis in kids. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • pain in the abdomen which:

    • may start in the area around the belly button, and move over to the lower right-hand side of the abdomen, but may also start in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen
    • usually increases in severity as time passes
    • may be worse with moving, taking deep breaths, being touched, coughing or sneezing
    • may spread throughout the abdomen if the appendix ruptures
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • fever and chills
  • changes in behavior
  • diarrhea or constipation

What causes appendicitis in children?

Appendicitis occurs when the interior of the appendix becomes filled with something that causes it to swell, such as mucus, stool, or parasites. The appendix then becomes irritated and inflamed. The blood supply to the appendix is cut off as the swelling and irritation increase. Adequate blood flow is necessary for a body part to remain healthy. When the blood flow is reduced, the appendix starts to die. Rupture (or perforation) occurs as holes develop in the walls of the appendix, allowing stool, mucus, and other substances to leak through and get inside the abdomen. An infection inside the abdomen known as peritonitis occurs when the appendix perforates.

Why is appendicitis in children a concern?

An irritated appendix can rapidly turn into an infected and ruptured appendix, sometimes within hours. A ruptured appendix can be life-threatening. When the appendix ruptures, bacteria infect the organs inside the abdominal cavity, causing peritonitis. The bacterial infection can spread very quickly and be difficult to treat if diagnosis is delayed.

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