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Appendicitis Symptoms in Kids

By Sarah Harding ; Updated August 14, 2017

Appendicitis is an infection or inflammation of the appendix. The appendix is a small organ found where the small and large intestines meet. Children's Memorial Hospital points out that the true function of the appendix is unclear. Infection or inflammation develops when hard stool or mucus blocks the opening of the intestines leading to the appendix. Symptoms of appendicitis in kids varies, but it is often a medical emergency.

Early Symptoms

The Children's Memorial Hospital explains that appendicitis symptoms in young children can vary and be difficult to diagnose. The first sign may be a loss of appetite. A dull, nonspecific pain can develop near the naval. Over time, it will move to the lower abdomen.

Progressive Symptoms

As time passes, the pain will increase. The pain does not always occur just where the appendix is located. If the appendix resides near the bladder, a child may have urinary tract symptoms. These include frequent urination or pain while urinating. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center explains that children may struggle to describe the pain they are experiencing. The pain can be exacerbated by touching the area, sneezing, coughing or any other sudden movements.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Vomiting and nausea can accompany the pain caused by the inflamed appendix. It may take a few hours for these symptoms to occur. Diarrhea or constipation are also possible. Severe gastrointestinal symptoms prior to pain are not signs of appendicitis, reports the Children's Memorial Hospital. Mild indigestion or changes in bowel habits can occur before the pain.


A normal case of appendicitis may cause a mild fever. Any temperature over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit may be an indication that the appendix has already burst. A burst appendix can cause a serious, potentially deadly, infection in a child's abdomen if it goes untreated.

Other Symptoms

A toddler may do anything she can to avoid moving because it only increases the pain. Lying quietly on her side or with the knees flexed may be the only comfortable position. Limping or walking more on the right leg are also signs of appendicitis.

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