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Appendicitis in Children

Symptoms of Appendicitis in Children

The most common symptom of appendicitis in adults is pain in the middle or right lower portion of the abdomen. Pain and other symptoms in adults are not always early appendicitis warning signs in children.
Diagnosing the condition in infants and young children is usually more difficult because they cannot clearly communicate their symptoms with their parents or doctors. Without a clear explanation of symptoms, doctors must rely on a physical exam and less specific signs, such as vomiting and fatigue.
While toddlers may have trouble eating and may seem unusually sleepy, children with appendicitis may have constipation or small stools that contain mucus. Although signs and symptoms vary widely among children, parents should contact a doctor immediately if they think that their child has appendicitis.

Making a Diagnosis

In order to diagnose appendicitis in children, doctors perform a physical examination, ask for a medical history, and order tests. Tests that are used to confirm a diagnosis can include laboratory tests and imaging tests.

Treating Children With Appendicitis

In most cases, appendicitis is treated with surgery. If the doctor is unsure whether a child's symptoms are from appendicitis, he or she may prescribe medications for a short period. However, if the symptoms are due to appendicitis, surgery will be necessary.
Recovery from an appendectomy will take a few weeks. Doctors usually prescribe pain medication and limit physical activity. Recovery from laparoscopic appendectomy is generally faster, but limiting strenuous activity may still be necessary for four to six weeks after surgery. Most children who are treated for appendicitis recover excellently and rarely need to make any changes in their diet, exercise, or lifestyle.
(Click Appendicitis Treatment for more information.)
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