To diagnosis your child's condition, your doctor will ask your child's medical history and perform an exam. Tests might include:
- Blood tests. Certain blood tests can help determine whether your child has an infection and what type of infection it is.
- Imaging studies. An abdominal ultrasound is often used to diagnose mesenteric lymphadenitis. A CT scan of your child's abdomen also might be used.
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.
Lifestyle and home remedies
For the pain and fever of mesenteric lymphadenitis, have your child:
- Get plenty of rest. Adequate rest can help your child recover.
- Drink fluids. Liquids help prevent dehydration from fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Apply moist heat. A warm, moist washcloth applied to the abdomen can help ease discomfort.
Preparing for your appointment
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.
What you can do
Make a list of:
- Your child's symptoms, including nonabdominal symptoms 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 and the names of all medications, vitamins and supplements your child is taking, including doses. Also bring a record of your child's recent vaccinations.
- Questions to ask your doctor.
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 at risk of 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 help make my child more comfortable? What foods should my child avoid?
- What signs or symptoms should prompt me to call you while my child is recovering?
- Is my child contagious?
- When can my child return to school?
What to expect from your doctor
Your child's doctor might ask:
- Where is the pain?
- Has the pain moved from one part of your child's abdomen to another part?
- How severe is the pain? Does your child cry with pain?
- What makes the pain more severe?
- What helps relieve the pain?
- Has your child had similar problems before?
- Do other children in your family or at school or child care have similar symptoms?
July 19, 2019
- Hay WW, et al. Viral infections. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 24nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2018. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed June 18, 2019.
- Nauman MI. Causes of acute abdominal pain in children and adolescents. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed June 18, 2019.
- Helbling R, et al. Acute nonspecific mesenteric lymphadenitis: More than "no need for surgery." BioMed Research International. 2017;Feb. 2:e1. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/9784565/. Accessed June 18, 2019.
- Benetti C, et al. Course of acute nonspecific mesenteric lymphadenitis: Single-center experience. European Journal of Pediatrics. 2018;177:243.
- Ferri FF. Mesenteric adenitis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2020. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 19, 2019.
- AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. Recommendations for prevention and control of influenza in children, 2017-2018. Pediatrics. 2017;140:e20172550.
- Sullivan JE, et al. Clinical report — Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics. 2011;127:580. Reaffirmed July 2016.
- 201.314 labeling of drug preparations containing salicylates. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=76be002fc0488562bf61609b21a6b11e&mc=true&node=se21.4.201_1314&rgn=div8. Accessed Feb. 22, 2018.
- Renaud DL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 27, 2018.