Health Tips

Tummy Ache or Appendicitis? How to Tell the Difference

boy hugging kneeIt’s the size of a finger and serves no purpose for our survival. But when the appendix becomes inflamed, it can cause serious and potentially life-threatening complications. You probably know this inflammation as appendicitis. It usually happens to children older than 5 years of age, but it can happen to younger children, too. Once the inflammation occurs, the appendix must be removed before it bursts and the infection spreads inside the abdomen.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Appendicitis has similar symptoms to your average stomach bug — so it is important to note the subtle differences. Here is what you should look for:

If your child’s discomfort suddenly disappears, the appendix may have ruptured and the infection may be spreading to the rest of the abdomen. In a short time, your child’s fever will increase and she will become more severely ill. You need to take your child to an emergency room immediately. Your child will need surgery. Once the appendix bursts, the recovery is much longer and complications can occur.

Most children with abdominal pain don’t have appendicitis, but only your pediatrician can diagnose the condition. If you suspect your child’s pain to be unlike a normal stomach illness, call your pediatrician or take your child in for a sick visit to be absolutely certain.

Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: June 2013

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