Possible Appendicitis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Appendicitis and location of appendix

Your doctor thinks your child may have appendicitis. This means that your child's appendix may be infected. The appendix is a small sac that is shaped like a finger. It's attached to the large intestine.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if someone has appendicitis. If the doctor thinks it's possible that your child has it, he or she may want to order more tests. Or your doctor may want to wait to see if the symptoms change.

Your doctor thinks it's okay for you to take your child home right now. But you will need to watch for symptoms of appendicitis at home. If your child's symptoms continue or get worse, it's important to call your doctor or get medical care right away. Appendicitis can get serious very quickly. The main treatment is surgery to remove the appendix.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Do not let your child eat or drink, unless your doctor says it is okay. If your child needs surgery, it's best to have an empty stomach. If your child is thirsty, have your child rinse his or her mouth with water. Or your child can suck on hard candy.
  • Do not give your child laxatives. They can make the appendix burst if your child has appendicitis.
  • Follow the doctor's instructions about giving your child medicines. The doctor may tell you not to give your child antibiotics or pain pills. These medicines can make it harder to tell if your child has appendicitis.
  • Watch for symptoms of appendicitis. See the When should you call for help? section below. It is very important that you follow the doctor's instructions about getting treatment if your child has these symptoms.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has new, severe belly pain and feels weak.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has belly pain below the belly button on the right side of his or her belly.
  • Your child has belly pain that gets worse when he or she moves, walks, or coughs.
  • Your child's belly pain does not get better after a few days.
  • Your child has a fever over 38°C (100.4°F).
  • Your child is sick to his or her stomach, can't keep fluids down, or won't eat or drink.
  • Your child has trouble passing gas or stools.
  • Your child's belly is bloated or swollen.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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