Know the Symptoms of Appendicitis in Kids


Appendicitis is one of the primary causes of childhood surgery and if parents cannot recognize the symptoms quickly, it can lead to a great deal of pain for children and fear for parents.

What is the Appendix? The appendix is a small pouch, about 4-5 inches long, that rests on the front, right side of the body and connects to the large intestine. The appendix is an organ that most physicians believe serves no function because of the lack of symptoms after removal. Researchers theorize that the appendix might be an organ that can reboot the immune system with healthy bacteria after a bout of infection in the digestive system.

How Does the Appendix Become Infected?

When bacteria is trapped in the appendix, the organ becomes inflamed due to antibodies flooding the organ in the hopes of fighting off dangerous infections. Trapped bacteria can be the result of a hard collection of stool or by pressure on the lymph node in the groin. When the bacteria in the appendix are blocked from leaving, the appendix becomes irritated. This is usually when the abdominal pain begins in children.

What are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?

Early Symptoms: An early symptom of appendicitis is pain, often in the center of the abdomen but sometimes on the right side. The pain may be dull at first but may become more sharp or severe. Accompanying symptoms may include slight fever (above normal but less than 100 degrees), vomiting or nausea. Some individuals, particularly children, experience loss of appetite.

Later Symptoms: As the condition progresses, severe pain is usually felt in the lower right part of the abdomen. As the appendix becomes further inflamed, symptoms may include:

  • severe or worsening pain or cramping in the abdomen, rectum or back
  • swelling or tenderness in the abdomen
  • severe nausea or vomiting
  • high fever (over 100 degrees)
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • inability to expel gas

Appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose because a number of other conditions can cause similar symptoms. Not everyone with appendicitis exhibits all of these symptoms. If you or your child have any of these symptoms, particularly abdominal pain that continues to worsen, contact your doctor immediately.

If the appendix pain is left untreated, the organ will fill with pus and bacteria causing it to rupture. A ruptured appendix will cause extreme abdominal pain along with other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, loss of energy and appetite and will need urgent medical attention. If your child is complaining of persistent stomach ache or pain and it hurts to touch their right side of their body, you can be almost sure that their appendix is infected and needs to be removed.

Appendicitis in children is often the child’s first experience with any kind of surgery. Broken bones, falls and accidents are more typical reasons why children seek urgency medical attention, so if you can recognize that your child is displaying the symptoms of appendicitis, they will be understandably frightened. Try to keep them as calm as possible until a physician can see them.

How is Appendicitis Diagnosed?

A physician or other healthcare provider will perform one or all of the following tests to determine the extent of the appendix infection.

  • Often, they’ll begin with a physical examination by pressing gently on the area and checking the child’s vitals.
  • After that, an ultrasound will be performed on the child. Ultrasounds use the power of sound waves in order to image the interior of the body. Ultrasounds are totally painless and can help doctors determine the extent of the infection and whether it can be treated and minimized with antibiotics or if surgery is necessary.
  • They may also recommend having a CT scan performed to determine the presence of appendicitis in children. CT scans (also known as CAT scans) use the power of X-rays and computer software to create cross-sectional images of the organs and soft tissues of the body. CT scans can be extremely beneficial in pediatric appendicitis cases in order to rule out other causes of abdominal pain like injury or bleeding.
  • An MRI may be used to help diagnose or evaluate symptoms associated with appendicitis because it is non-invasive, fast, and does not use ionizing radiation.
  • In some cases, an abdominal or chest x-ray may be the initial imaging study. Constipation and sometimes even pneumonia may be causing abdominal pain similar to that seen with appendicitis.

How is Appendicitis Treated?

There are three treatment options for appendicitis in children:

  1. Removal of the appendix with surgery. Small incisions and laparoscopy are usual methods to remove of the appendix. The child will stay in the hospital for 1-2 days and be discharged with antibiotics.
  2. If the appendix is ruptured, surgery is needed immediately. Once the appendix is removed, the child will have to stay in under hospital observation for several days — possibly longer than a week to monitor infection or fever.
  3. Interval appendectomy is treating an appendix infection with antibiotics. As the infection subsides, surgery becomes more an option rather than a necessity.

Learn more about appendicitis:

Lung Cancer Symptoms and Screenings

Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive and commonplace cancers in the world. More people die from lung cancer than any kind of cancer and over 218,000 new cases are reported every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cancer is fast-moving. Without catching it in the early stages, survival chances decrease rapidly. That is why it is of the utmost importance for most smokers over the age of 55 to be screened with a CT scan for lung cancer.

The commonly reported lung cancer symptoms are:

  • a cough that doesn’t seem to go away
  • coughing up blood or bloody phlegm
  • severe, constant chest pain
  • shortness of breath or breathing issues

These issues can be easily confused with a severe cold or sickness. That may be part of the reason why people do not get properly screened. So if you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your physician about getting a low-dose CT scan to check for cancerous nodules or masses in the lungs.

Another reason that lung cancer screenings are not occurring with enough frequency is that current smokers may be hesitant to admit their habit in a doctor’s office or hospital setting. Cigarette smoking is still the #1 cause of lung cancer in America. And smokers are aware of the health risks (they are written right on the package of cigarettes) but they are addicted to the nicotine.

While tobacco itself is a dangerous plant, it is the additives in cigarettes that contribute to the developing of lung cancer. Dangerous substances from cigarette smoking include all kinds of chemicals like nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, cyanide, and arsenic. These chemicals are kept at low amounts. So they don’t kill customers quickly, but smokers die more slowly from diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer, all the while making smokers lifelong customers.

At Doctors Imaging, we don’t want shame and fear of results to keep patients from getting lung cancer screenings. Because of our equipment, experience, and other qualifications, we have been able to offer our services and help detect lung cancer and get our patients the treatment necessary. Our computed tomography capabilities are some of the best because we use the Siemens 64 slice CT, one of the best pieces of equipment for this purpose.

Find out if you may qualify for a low-dose CT scan. Even if you’re not eligible for a free exam based on your age or other qualifications, we’ll make sure you pay no more than $99 out of pocket. You can even request your appointment online. The sooner you get your exam, the sooner you can take the next step toward a healthier life.

What are the Warning Signs of Heart Attack and Stroke?

Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the world, killing over 800,000 people annually in the United States. With the amount of people dying from these conditions, do enough people know what the warning signs are? There are certainly things to look for, but if you aren’t paying attention, they can come at any time. Not paying attention puts your life on the line.

Hopefully you have been diligent with your yearly check-ups, and will know if you have conditions like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Those will indicate to you your predisposition for heart attack or stroke. Find out what the warning signs are for heart attack or stroke are so that you can eliminate possible causes or have a plan in case of emergency.

Signs of Heart Attack:

Known medically as a myocardial infarction, a heart attack can strike at any moment, but by knowing the warning signs, you can find help before your life is in danger.

  • Initial chest discomfort and pressure often described “like an elephant sitting on your chest,” pressure, squeezing, a feeling of fullness or pain will usually be one of the first signs.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the body such as the arms, neck, shoulders, jaw, and stomach is a sign of a possible blockage.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty catching one’s breath
  • Numbing feeling in the left arm is a typical symptom of a looming heart attack.
  • Cold sweats or sweating in days previous. Many heart attack victims describe profuse sweating during sleep in the days leading up to the event.
  • Nausea or vomiting are common symptoms of an imminent heart attack in women. Men typically suffer from indigestion leading up to a heart attack and usually write it off as heartburn.

Many people attribute the symptoms as another problem without realizing the danger they are in. If you think that you are experiencing a heart attack, call 911 immediately and if possible, take one aspirin. Aspirin can help ease blood flow to the heart and hopefully add a few extra minutes for emergency personnel to arrive to take you to the hospital for medical treatment.

Signs of Stroke:

There are two kinds of strokes that can occur: an ischemic stroke happens when there is a blood clot in the brain that stops blood flow and a hemorrhagic stroke that occurs when a blood vessel in the brain has burst causing pressure and internal bleeding. If you are unsure, use the F-A-S-T system for determining if you or a loved one is having a stroke.

  • F:   Face- Is there facial drooping or the inability to control facial movements?
  • A:   Arms- Is the person unable to raise or keep their arms raised above their head?
  • S:  Speech- Is the person having a slurred or strange speech or trouble communicating?
  • T:   Time- Keep track of when these symptoms appear for your doctor, but call 911 immediately.

Some stroke victims also report symptoms such as trouble seeing out of one eye, coordination loss and sudden, and incurable headache. By seeking medical treatment as soon as possible, you can stop the damaging effects of stroke from being permanent.

Wondering what your heart health is truly like? A Calcium Score (Heart Scan) and Carotid Ultrasound from the radiologists at Doctors Imaging could provide you and your doctor with preventive information that can save your life. To schedule your appointment today, either fill out our online form or call 504-883-8111.