Diagnosing mesenteric lymphadenitis involves taking a medical history and doing an exam. Tests might include:

  • Blood tests. Certain blood tests can help show if there's an infection and what type of infection it is.
  • Imaging studies. An ultrasound of the stomach area is often used to diagnose mesenteric lymphadenitis. A CT scan of the stomach area also might be used.

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Mild cases of mesenteric lymphadenitis and those caused by a virus usually go away on their own. 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). They're safer than 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.

Lifestyle and home remedies

For symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis, have your child:

  • Get plenty of rest. Enough rest can help your child recover.
  • Drink fluids. Liquids help prevent loss of body fluids, called dehydration, from fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Apply moist heat. A warm, moist washcloth applied to the stomach area can help ease discomfort.
  • Eat a liquid diet in small amounts. For example, eat broth or chicken noodle soup.

Preparing for your appointment

If your child has symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Make a list of:

  • Your child's symptoms, including symptoms that don't affect the stomach, and when they began. If possible, take your child's temperature several times before your appointment and record the results.
  • Your child's key medical information, including other health conditions. Also list all medicines, vitamins and supplements your child takes, including doses. And take a record of your child's recent vaccinations.
  • Questions to ask your healthcare professional.

For possible mesenteric lymphadenitis, some questions to ask include:

  • What's the likely cause of my child's condition? Are there other possible causes?
  • What tests does my child need?
  • Is my child likely to have complications from this condition?
  • Does my child need treatment? If this is due to an infection, should my child take antibiotics?
  • What can I do to make my child more comfortable? Are there foods my child shouldn't eat?
  • What symptoms should prompt me to call you while my child is recovering?
  • Is my child's illness catching?
  • When can my child return to school?

What to expect from your doctor

Your child's healthcare professional might ask:

  • Where is the pain?
  • Has the pain moved from one part of your child's stomach to another part?
  • How bad is the pain? Does your child cry with pain or insist on lying down?
  • What makes the pain feel worse?
  • What helps relieve the pain?
  • Has your child had problems like this before?
  • Do other children in your family or at school or at child care have symptoms like your child's?
Jan. 10, 2024
  1. Nauman MI. Causes of acute abdominal pain in children and adolescents. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  2. Ferri FF. Mesenteric adenitis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2023. Elsevier; 2023. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  3. Mesenteric adenitis. Radiopaedia.org. https://radiopaedia.org/articles/mesenteric-adenitis?lang=us. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  4. Ozdamar MY, et al. Acute mesenteric lymphadenitis in children: Findings related to differential diagnosis and hospitalization. Archives of Medical Science. 2020; doi:10.5114/aoms.2018.79430.
  5. AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommendations for prevention and control of influenza in children, 2022-2023. Pediatrics. 2022; doi:10.1542/peds.2022-059274.
  6. Sullivan JE, et al. Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics. 2011; doi:10.1542/peds.2010-3852. Reaffirmed October 2022.
  7. Labeling of drug preparations containing salicylates. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-21/chapter-I/subchapter-C/part-201/subpart-G/section-201.314. Accessed Jan. 26, 2023.
  8. Fine AL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Jan. 25, 2023.
  9. Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. March 9, 2023.


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