Lymphadenitis is a condition in which your lymph nodes become inflamed. When the condition affects the lymph nodes in the membrane that connects your bowel to the abdominal wall (mesentery), it's called mesenteric lymphadenitis (mez-un-TER-ik lim-fad-uh-NIE-tis).
A viral intestinal infection is the usual cause of mesenteric lymphadenitis, also known as mesenteric adenitis. It mainly affects children and teens.
This painful condition can mimic appendicitis or a condition in which part of the intestine slides into another part of the intestine (intussusception). Unlike appendicitis or intussusception, mesenteric lymphadenitis is seldom serious and usually clears up on its own.
Possible signs and symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis include:
Depending on what's causing the ailment, signs and symptoms might also include:
Abdominal pain is common in children and teens, and it can be hard to know when it requires medical attention.
Call your doctor right away if your child has episodes of:
In addition, call your doctor if your child has episodes of the following signs and symptoms that don't get better over a short time:
The most common cause of mesenteric lymphadenitis is a viral infection, such as gastroenteritis — often called stomach flu. This infection causes inflammation in the lymph nodes in the thin tissue that attaches your intestine to the back of your abdominal wall (mesentery).
Other causes of mesenteric lymphadenitis include bacterial infection, inflammatory bowel disease and lymphoma.
To diagnosis your child's condition, your doctor will ask your child's medical history and perform an exam. Tests might include:
Mild, uncomplicated cases of mesenteric lymphadenitis and those caused by a virus usually go away on their own, although full recovery can take four weeks or more.
For treatment of fever or pain, consider giving your child infants' or children's over-the-counter fever and pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) as a safer alternative to aspirin.
Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 3, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
Antibiotics might be prescribed for a moderate to severe bacterial infection.
For the pain and fever of mesenteric lymphadenitis, have your child:
If your child has signs and symptoms common to mesenteric lymphadenitis, make an appointment with your family doctor or a pediatrician. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Make a list of:
For possible mesenteric lymphadenitis, some questions to ask include:
Your child's doctor might ask:
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