"My Stomach Hurts": Common Causes and Cures for Tummy Trouble

Could It Be Appendicitis?

Adults who have appendicitis tend to have classic symptoms, but kids usually don't, according to a recent review of studies. As a result, they're often misdiagnosed.

The appendix, a small organ attached to the colon, is still a bit of a mystery, although we know it contains infection-fighting cells. Once it becomes inflamed, it needs to come out before it ruptures and spills bacteria into the abdomen. "A child who has a ruptured appendix may need to be in the hospital for several weeks," says David G. Bundy, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Appendicitis can strike kids of all ages, and the appendix usually ruptures in kids under 4.

Call the doctor if your child's tummy ache seems different than usual or if she has a fever. Particularly suspicious: pain that begins around the belly button and moves to the lower right side, along with vomiting (especially greenish vomit) and diarrhea. Try this test at home: Press down on the part of her belly that hurts, then quickly release your hand. If her pain is worse when you take your hand away, she may have an inflamed appendix. Also ask her to jump up and down to see if that hurts.

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