When your child becomes sick for any reason it can be a very frightening time. Here is everything you need to know about children's appendicitis.
Conditions like Appendicitis are particularly scary for parents as it often involves their child consumed by huge amounts of pain before a diagnosis is confirmed.
Appendicitis is an infection that affects the appendix. The appendix is a small unit that forms part of the large intestine.
Appendicitis occurs when it becomes inflamed or infected. The pain and discomfort usually present in the lower abdomen for both adults and children.
A virus is usually the cause of Appendicitis. It can cause a blockage in the appendix which leads to swelling and infection.
If left untreated, the blockage can lead to the appendix bursting which is a very serious and painful experience.
The contents of the blockage (which can include stools) can leak into different parts of the body and spread the infection. For this reason, appendicitis usually results in surgery to remove the appendix. This is called an appendectomy.
The most common signs of appendicitis are fever, nausea, vomiting and tummy pain that is often on one side (usually the right side).
If your child is complaining about extreme pain in their stomach it is important to consider that it might be appendicitis. You should take them to the emergency room of your local hospital where they can be examined.
At the emergency room, the examination is likely to start with the doctor pressing on your child’s stomach at the site where the pain is persisting. Your child may also require an ultrasound and blood tests to give an accurate reading of the inflammation that is occurring.
Sometimes a doctor will be interested in the way your child is walking while experiencing the pain as it can tell them a great deal about the location and nature of the discomfort.
If Appendicitis is diagnosed your child will be prepped for surgery. Surgery can happen via laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) or an open surgery involving a small incision.
Your child will stay in hospital for 1-3 days, depending on their pain and comfort levels after the surgery. They may be given fluids or pain relief through an IV drip and nausea medication may be administered to ensure that they are comfortable.
In cases where the appendix has actually burst, the hospital stay may be longer as your child will require a course of antibiotics to fight the infection. They will require time off school (one week) and a break from physical activities.
They should be able to eat and drink as normal and should feel comfortable once pain relief is given. If they spike a temperature it is important to contact the hospital to rule out an infection post-surgery.