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Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Appendicitis

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Symptoms of Appendicitis

Children with appendicitis need medical help right away. It's important to know the symptoms of appendicitis so you can get help quickly.

The most common symptom of appendicitis is pain in the lower belly. It's often hard to tell appendicitis from other causes of belly pain.

In addition to pain, the most common symptoms of appendicitis for children 2 years old and younger are vomiting and swelling in the belly. An older child may first complain of pain near the belly button. Over time, the pain moves to the lower right belly. In most cases the pain doesn't get better even if the child lies still. Movement tends to make the pain worse.

Your child may also have these symptoms:

  • Not wanting to eat
  • Feeling sick to their stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low-grade fever
  • Swollen or bloated belly

Children may have a slight fever at first. If the appendix bursts, your child may get a high fever, around 104 degrees Fahrenheit, because of the spreading infection.

If you think your child may have appendicitis, call your doctor right away. Don't give your child anything to eat or drink, including medicine for pain, unless your doctor tells you to.

Appendicitis Diagnosis

It is sometimes hard to tell if a child has appendicitis or another illness that's making their belly hurt.

To see if your child has appendicitis, the doctor will ask for a detailed history of your child's illness and pain. The doctor will also examine your child's belly, looking for pain and tender spots. A blood test and urine test may be helpful to find out the cause of your child's pain.

So doctors can see inside the belly and find out what is causing the pain, your child may also need:

  • X-ray
  • ultrasound
  • CT (computed tomography) scan

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

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Download Spring 2014 (PDF)