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Try the Jump Test If You Think You Have Appendicitis — Here’s How – SheKnows

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Your kid has been complaining of a stomachache for a couple hours, and none of the normal tricks — warm tea, Tylenol, lots of rest — are helping. Soon, the familiar anxiety starts to rear its head: is it their appendix? There are a few ways you can tell, but today we want to introduce you to one called the jump test.

As a refresher, your appendix is a “finger-like tube” connecting to your large intestine on the lower-right side of your abdomen, Dr. Kristen Navarette, pediatrician and medical director at MVP Healthcare, tells SheKnows. You’d probably never hear about it if it wasn’t for what happens when it gets infected, aka when you get appendicitis. “Appendicitis is inflammation and bacterial overgrowth or blockage of the appendix,” Dr. James Davis, a pediatric surgeon at Pediatrix Surgical Associates, tells SheKnows. While anyone can get appendicitis, it’s most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15, he says.

For parents, the tough part is differentiating between your kid having a generic stomachache or something like appendicitis, which — just to be clear — is considered a medical emergency. If gone untreated, Navarette explains, appendicitis “can cause the appendix to burst,” allowing the infection to spread throughout the abdomen in a potentially life-threatening way. Luckily, there are some quick and fairly simple ways you can tell if your child’s (or your own) stomach pain is an appendix issue.

What’s the jump test for appendicitis?

The jump test is a good way to see if your child might have appendicitis, especially for young kids who may not be able to describe their pain or its location. “It is among the most straightforward, user-friendly tests one can perform,” Davis says.

To do the jump test, simply have your child jump with both hands in the air, reaching toward the ceiling. “If this elicits significant abdominal pain, studies suggest there is up to a 70 percent chance that the child has appendicitis,” Davis explains. For context, he’s citing a 2019 study that found that, when combined with blood tests, the jump test “could successfully predict which child is in urgent need or not of surgery.”

The jump test on its own shouldn’t be used to diagnose your child, Navarette notes; think of it as a signal that it’s time to seek medical help. And if the pain persists or worsens (even if your child doesn’t have pain when they jump), you should seek medical attention so doctors can find out what is causing the issue.


Appendicitis symptoms

It’s also a good idea to be familiar with other signs and symptoms of appendicitis so you can identify it or rule it out when your child is sick or in pain. According to Navarette and Davis, some common symptoms include:

  • Sudden pain on the lower right side of the abdomen
  • Pain that starts at the belly button and moves to the lower right side of the abdomen
  • Pain that worsens with quick movements (coughing, walking, deep breaths, being touched)
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Back pain, pelvic pain, or testicular pain

Abdominal pain, Davis says, is “by far the most common feature of appendicitis.” It often starts as a “vague pain around the belly button,” he explains, “but within 24 hours, the pain will localize to the right side of the patient’s abdomen, below the belly button.”

It’s also worth noting that there are a few conditions that share symptoms with appendicitis. “Gastroenteritis, constipation, or urinary tract infections can all simulate appendicitis-like symptoms,” Davis notes. However, if your child is specifically experiencing “progressive pain” in the lower-right part of their abdomen, or is struggling to remain hydrated, medical attention is required.

Treating appendicitis

If your child is showing symptoms of appendicitis, take them to the emergency room as soon as possible for treatment. Once doctors confirm the diagnosis, your child will undergo an appendectomy, or surgery to remove the appendix. They’ll do this either via traditional open surgery, Navarette says, or via a “minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure.” She notes that both surgeries “have a low risk of complications,” and Davis adds that appendectomies are one of the most common surgeries performed on kids.

Laparoscopic appendectomies typically have a shorter recovery process, Navarette says, especially if it’s done when the appendix is just infected (versus burst). While everyone’s body is different, “most children are back to their usual activities about a week after the surgery,” she says. For open surgery, the recovery time is longer, with patients needing to stay in the hospital for an average of five days, Davis says. They may experience fevers, swollen belly, diarrhea, and lack of appetite, and will need antibiotics and medication for treatment.

Despite how common it is, appendicitis can be a scary topic, especially if your child is the one suffering from possible symptoms. The best thing you can do is to stay calm, get familiar with the symptoms of appendicitis (like pain during the jump test), and make sure to take your kid to the hospital if they’re showing any of the telltale signs.

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