The appendix is a small organ attached to the large intestine in the lower right
side of the belly. When it gets infected, it's called appendicitis.
Appendicitis is an emergency. It's important to know what to look
for and get medical care right away.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Appendicitis?
The first signs of appendicitis are often a mild fever and pain around the belly
button. It might seem like just a stomachache. But with appendicitis, the pain usually
gets worse and moves to the lower right side of the belly.
If your child has belly pain, be on the lookout for these signs of appendicitis:
strong pain, mainly around the belly button or in the lower right part of the
belly (the pain might come and go at first, then grow steady and intense)
If pain spreads across the belly, it may mean the appendix has burst. Doctors call
this ruptured appendicitis, and it's serious. A high fever reaching
104°F (40°C) is another sign of a burst appendix.
Call your doctor right away if you think your child has appendicitis. The sooner
it's caught, the easier it will be to treat.
What Problems Can Happen?
If an infected appendix isn't removed, it has the potential to burst about 48 to
72 hours after symptoms first start. This can spread
inside the body. The infection might form a large collection of pus (an
abscess) or spread throughout
Who Gets Appendicitis?
Appendicitis mostly affects kids and teens between 5 and 20 years old. It is rare
What Causes Appendicitis?
When the appendix gets blocked, too much bacteria can grow and cause an infection.
Some of the things that might block the appendix are:
To find out if a child has appendicitis, a doctor will examine the belly for signs
of pain and tenderness. The doctor will order blood tests and urine tests. Some kids
also get an X-ray of the abdomen
and chest, an ultrasound,
or a CAT scan.
The medical team may tell you not to give your child any food or drink. This is
in case your child needs surgery.
How Is Appendicitis Treated?
A surgeon will operate to take out the infected appendix. This is called an appendectomy. Most of the time, surgeons use a small device
to remove the appendix through a small cut on the belly. Kids who get
this surgery usually stay in the hospital for a day.
The care team may give your child intravenous (IV) fluids and antibiotics before
and after surgery. This helps prevent problems such as an infection. Kids get pain
medicine if they need it.
A child who had a burst appendix might need to stay in the hospital longer after
an appendectomy. That gives the antibiotics time to kill any bacteria that spread
into the body.
Can Appendicitis Be Prevented?
There is no way to prevent appendicitis. But when kids get the right medical care
quickly, doctors usually find and treat it without problems.