The most common causes of mesenteric adenitis are infections and other types of inflammation.
Mesenteric adenitis, also called as mesenteric lymphadenitis, is a condition that causes swelling and inflammation in the abdominal lymph nodes. This condition usually affects children and adolescents.
Lymph nodes are small glands that are part of the lymphatic system. They contain a type of white blood cell (WBC) called lymphocytes and usually become swollen when the body is fighting an infection or tumors. The role of lymph nodes involves filtering out germs from the lymph fluid, so the body can eliminate them.
Symptoms of Mesenteric Adenitis
The symptoms of mesenteric adenitis may be observed after children develop a cold or other respiratory tract infections. Its symptoms include:
- Lower abdominal pain or pain in other parts of the abdomen
- High fever
- Malaise (general feeling of weakness or discomfort)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased WBC count
Conditions Associated with Mesenteric Adenitis
The most common causes of mesenteric adenitis are infections and other types of inflammation. The following conditions are linked with mesenteric adenitis:
1. Respiratory Tract Infections
Upper respiratory tract infections, which include those that cause a sore throat tend to occur before symptoms of mesenteric lymphadenitis are observed.
2. Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)
Viral infections, such as gastroenteritis or the stomach flu, are a common cause of mesenteric adenitis. This viral infection can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, especially in children.
Appendicitis is the inflammation of the appendix. This condition causes pain in the lower right side of the abdomen and has symptoms that are similar to mesenteric adenitis. Sometimes, appendicitis and mesenteric adenitis can be difficult to tell apart.
Your child may have appendicitis if the pain comes on suddenly without any prior illness. However, it may be mesenteric adenitis if the pain occurs after having a viral infection, such as respiratory tract infections.
Treatment for appendicitis usually requires surgery to remove the inflamed appendix. This type of surgery is called an appendectomy. On the other hand, mesenteric adenitis usually gets better on its own and is less serious than appendicitis.
The pancreas is a long and flat organ located behind the stomach. When the pancreas is inflamed, the condition is called pancreatitis. Its signs and symptoms tend to vary from one person to another. However, the usual signs and symptoms of acute pancreatitis include:
- Rapid pulse
- Upper abdominal pain
- Worsening abdominal pain, especially after meals
- Abdominal pain that radiates to the back
Treatment may not be required in mild cases of pancreatitis since the condition may go away on its own. However, life-threatening complications may also occur in severe cases.
Diverticulitis is the infection or inflammation of the pouches called diverticula. These small pouches usually develop along the intestinal walls. This condition can cause fever, nausea, severe abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits.
Treatment for mild diverticulitis often includes rest, antibiotic therapy, and certain dietary changes. However, in recurring and severe cases of diverticulitis, surgery may be required.
6. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the term used to describe the conditions that involve chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There are two types of IBD, and they are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both of these chronic conditions can cause crampy abdominal pain.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract while ulcerative colitis tends to only affect the colon.
7. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory joint disease that may differently affect each person. This condition causes joint pain and damage all throughout the body.
People who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis may also develop fibromyalgia, which causes bloating, abdominal pain, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.
Other Conditions Linked to Mesenteric Adenitis
- Multiple sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling central nervous system (CNS) disease. The signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis may vary and depend on the affected nerves and extent of nerve damage.
- Lupus: This systemic autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own organs and tissues. This disease can also affect many body systems and cause inflammation in the skin, joints, brain, kidneys, heart, lungs, and blood cells.
- Peritonitis: This condition is characterized by inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the tissue that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity. This tissue supports and covers most organs in your abdomen. Peritonitis is often caused by bacterial or fungal infections.
- Certain types of cancer: This includes gastrointestinal cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and lymphoma.
Untreated bacterial infections that cause lymph node swelling may enable the spread of bacteria to the bloodstream and cause sepsis, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
It can be possible to lessen the risks of contracting viral and bacterial infections, but mesenteric adenitis cannot be totally avoided. To help reduce the risk of mesenteric adenitis, make sure that your children and other members of the family follow preventive measures, such as:
- Avoiding direct and close contact with people who are sick.
- Regular washing of hands using clean water and soap. Developing good handwashing habits at home and school can help prevent the spread of infections and eliminate harmful germs.
- Kitchen and dining areas must be kept clean. Other areas that could be sources of contamination are bathrooms, so these areas must also be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
When to See a Doctor
It can be difficult to determine if a child’s abdominal pain needs medical attention. However, if your child experiences any of the following symptoms, make sure to call your doctor as soon as possible:
- Abdominal pain with fever
- Abdominal pain with vomiting and diarrhea
- Acute (sudden) and severe abdominal pain
Additionally, your child should see a doctor if he or she has prolonged signs and symptoms, such as:
- Abdominal pain with anorexia (loss of appetite)
- Abdominal pain that disturbs your child’s sleep
- Abdominal pain with changes in your child’s bowel habits
Mesenteric Lymphadenitis. (August 2016). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mesenteric-lymphadenitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353799
Abdominal Pain. (January 2018). https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/abdominal-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050728
Appendicitis. (July 2018). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/appendicitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20369543
Mesenteric Lymphadenitis. (September 2018). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17890-mesenteric-lymphadenitis
Overview of Gastroenteritis. (May 2017) https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/gastroenteritis/overview-of-gastroenteritis