Appendicitis In Children

Children are our prized possession. Any small problem that happens to them gets us moving us in varied directions to seek the best for them. Yet many times small aches and pains are not looked at in great depth. The pain related to head and stomach is one of them. Children often complain of a stomach ache, which is generally overlooked as being one of the reasons not to go to school. However, it could turn into a serious issue as well. Strangely but true an appendicitis pain could be arising as well, which if not treated at the right time could lead to risking of life as well.

The appendicitis pain can be treated well in time as it is easy to identify its symptoms. Going forward we will be discussing what is appendicitis, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications etc to get a clear picture and offer medical guidance to the child if the need be.

What Is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a disorder that arises when the appendix organ gets infected by bacteria that needs to be removed to evade any risk. The appendix organ resembles a small finger that is joined to the large intestine and is in the right part of the abdomen. It looks like a pouch that has an opening in the large intestine. When this pouch gets blocked, a number of bacteria grow in the region and can spread infection all over.

Appendicitis is very painful swelling of the appendix. It generally is an urgent and medical emergency as the appendix can burst or even rupture leading to greater chances of infection, overall a serious issue and if not given proper medical treatment at the right time can even be life-threatening. It is not an important organ and its function is not known but its removal `is not considered risky or unsafe.

The surgery done to remove the appendix is called an appendectomy and it is the most familiar type of emergency done in children.

What Causes Appendicitis in Children?

When an infection is caused due to a blockage inside the appendix, it is called appendicitis. This blockage could be due to mouth or nose fluid also referred as mucus. This at times could happen due to stool or even due to a twisting in the appendix organ itself.

Appendicitis is an infection that is caused by bacteria and viruses like E. coli, Bacteroides bacteria, adenovirus, salmonella etc. The infection can be caused in different forms. Given below are some of the reasons as to why appendicitis occurs. Some of them are listed as under:

  • Appendix stones — when the appendix is blocked by hard or thick stool.
  • Infections caused by intestinal or pinworms.
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Any sort of trauma or abdominal injury
  • The occurrence of ulcers or any soreness in the GI tract that is the result of some disorder.
  • Cancerous tumors.
  • Presence of objects like pins, stones, air gun pellets, or some miniature items.

Whatever be the cause, one should instantly treat appendicitis to get rid of complications.

Complications That may Arise Due To Appendicitis In Children

In a situation, where there arises an infection in which the organ becomes inflamed or swollen. The blood supply starts cutting off as the swelling or soreness worsens up. Adequate blood supply is required by all parts of the body to be healthy. Thus, when the blood supply gets lessen, the appendix organ starts dying. It eventually will burst or rupture when the wall starts developing holes. Due to the presence of the holes, the stool, mucus and many other substances start leaking and start getting inside the abdomen. In case the appendix bursts, a serious infection known as the peritonitis occurs which if not treated at the right time can be lethal.

What Are The Symptoms Of Appendicitis In Children?

A pain developing in the naval area and shifting to the lower right portion of the stomach is the most common/ classic symptom  of the bursting of the appendix as it is placed in the abdominal area.

Now we know that the presence of bacteria in the appendix leads to appendicitis. When the bacteria spread so much that the appendix gets swollen up with puss accumulation and is not treated on time leading to its rupture, it can lead to a complication called peritonitis.

It is the most common reason behind an urgent surgery for the people in the age bracket of 10-30. It is not something that needs to wait till the last minute as it can be removed before the rupturing state arises if it is diagnosed on time.

Since the appendicitis pain and the stomach ache are too similar, it might become difficult to differentiate between the two, so let’s study the symptoms of appendicitis. Likewise, since all children are different from each other, they show different symptoms as well. Given below is a list of common symptoms of appendicitis:

  • Abdominal pain that shoots near the stomach and shifts to the lower portion of the stomach and worsens as is felt all over the abdominal region in case the appendix bursts.
  • Stomach upset
  • Less desire to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Constipation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling in the belly
  • Difficulty in releasing gases

Diagnosing Appendicitis In Children

As the indicators of appendicitis are similar to the presence of kidney stones, pneumonia, etc, it becomes a challenging task for the doctors to diagnose the same.

The doctor would suggest a few tests after physically examining the health history of the child. Some of them are given as under:

  • Abdominal Ultrasound: This test is used to assess the abdomen for tenderness and even any indicators of abdominal pain that could signal a rupturing of the appendix.
  • CT Scan: This test makes use of both the X-rays and computer technology to show the detailed images of any part of the body. This comprises of bones, muscles, fats, and organs.
  • Blood Tests: Infection and inflammation are checked with these tests and it even helps to detect any problems arising with other organs like liver or pancreas.
  • Urine Test: This test helps to identify in case there is any kidney or bladder infection.

Under emergency cases, the appendix must be removed instantly else the treatment is done on the bases of the test results.

Treatment For Appendicitis In Children

In minor cases of appendicitis treatment with antibiotics is sufficient yet in most of the cases, a surgery becomes mandatory for the removal of the appendix. The treatment completely depends on the age of the child, symptoms, and overall health. Appendicitis is a medical predicament as the appendix is most likely to rupture leading to a serious infection, which is why the doctors suggest its removal. The child is given antibiotics and fluids by an IV before they start the surgical procedures.

The removal of the appendix can happen in two ways and they are:

  1. Open Or Traditional Surgery: In this surgery, at first anesthesia is given to the child. After that, a cut is made in the lower right-hand side of the belly and then the surgeon locates the appendix and removes it. In case, the appendix bursts, a small tube is placed to drain out all the pus and the remaining fluids from the abdomen. This tube is then taken after a few days once the infection disappears.
  2. Laparoscopic Surgery: Under this method, the child is offered anesthesia and few cuts, as well as the camera that is also known as a laparoscope, is used to have a look in the inside of the belly. The surgical tools are placed in one incision while the camera in another. This method can however not be used in case the appendix has ruptured.

Thus, the appendix is a small organ and has no function in one’s body. But it is a reserve for good bacteria. It is not always a good idea to neglect a stomach pain reported by children as it could be appendicitis issue, which if not treated on time could have fatal results.