Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Appendicitis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Appendicitis

It's important to know the symptoms of appendicitis so you can get help quickly.

For children 2 years old and younger, the most common signs of appendicitis are pain in the lower belly, 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 usually makes 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

If the appendix bursts, your child may get a high fever because of the spreading infection.

If you think your child may have appendicitis, call your doctor or bring your child to our Emergency Department right away. Don’t give your child anything to eat or drink, including medicine for pain, unless your doctor tells you to. Appendicitis treatment usually includes surgery to remove the appendix.

Appendicitis Diagnosis

It can be hard to tell if appendicitis is the reason a child’s belly hurts. The doctor will ask for a detailed history of your child’s illness and examine your child’s belly, looking for tender spots. We might use a blood test or urine test — or take images of the inside of your child’s abdomen — to make sure we know exactly what is causing the symptoms.

We can often diagnose appendicitis using ultrasound. This saves children from being exposed to the radiation that goes along with X-rays or CT (computed tomography) scans.

Contact Us

If you think your child has appendicitis, call your doctor immediately or bring your child to our Emergency Department. If you have questions about appendicitis treatment, call our General and Thoracic Surgery Department at 206-987-2794, extension 4.