Appendicitis – The Facts and The Myths!


If you have not suffered appendicitis, chances are that we know someone who has suffered from it. Appendicitis is one of those conditions that lead to emergency surgeries. Everyone of us with an appendix (that tiny worm-like part of large intestines close to where the small intestines connect to the large bowels) is at risk of developing an inflamed appendix, which is appendicitis!

While most commonly affecting ages 10-30 years, younger children can also appendicitis, sometimes with more serious complications. So, what are some of the myths about appendicitis in children? Read on and hear what we in Paediatric Surgery say!

Myth 1

Children do not suffer from appendicitis.

False. Any child with an appendix is at risk of acute appendicitis. The appendicitis may follow a period of constipation, a respiratory tract infection, or a parasitic infestation. In most cases, we do not know why a child gets appendicitis. The condition should be suspected if abdominal pain appears with the intensity increasing as time passes. The child may also have associated loss of appetite, feel nauseated with some even vomiting. They may also have a fever and the abdominal pain may end up in the right lower abdomen.

Myth 2

There is no urgency in making a diagnosis of appendicitis in children.

False. With each hour that passes, a child with undiagnosed appendicitis is at risk of serious or even life threatening complications. These complications include rupture, perforation or even gangrene of the appendix. At this stage, the child becomes severely sick with infection in their tummy spreading beyond the area of the appendix. Only urgent diagnosis and treatment can prevent these complications.

Myth 3

Antibiotics and medicines is all that’s required to treat appendicitis.

False. Children with acute appendicitis require surgery to remove the inflamed appendix. While antibiotics may be used in a child with appendicitis, they are used only as an adjunct to surgical treatment. The surgical treatment of appendicitis may include open surgery, or as in majority of cases these days, laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery is used allowing faster recoveries of 2 to 4 days!

There are many other myths out there with regards to appendicitis. What have you heard? We would be happy to hear what you say and help conclude whether what you have heard is anything to go by. The comment section is for you!

If you think your child has acute appendicitis, or any emergency, call us, your child’s doctor, or visit your nearest health centre.

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