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Myocarditis

Myocarditis is an irritation (inflammation) of the heart muscle. Often children who develop myocarditis feel better in a few weeks and may show little or no symptoms. Usually recovery is complete with no long-term complications.

What are the Symptoms of Myocarditis in Children?

Symptoms are similar to the flu—but often last longer than seven days, they may include:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness

What Causes Myocarditis in Children?

It is not known what causes myocarditis. However, certain medicines, infections and viruses may be causes. Myocarditis is not inherited from generation to generation.

Who Gets Myocarditis?

Anyone can get myocarditis and some people may not even know they have it—as it may go away by itself. However, sometimes myocarditis can be very serious and even life-threatening.

How Can Myocarditis be Treated?

Treatment should be begun as soon as possible—as it often helps the outcome. If the child does not have any signs or symptoms, he may be given an anti-inflammatory or other medication and told to rest and limit salt in his diet. If the child has symptoms or shows signs of heart failure, he should be taken to the hospital immediately. Possible surgical treatments include a pacemaker or ventricular assist device.

What is the Follow-up Care for Myocarditis?

If pediatric heart surgery is done, children need to have long-term follow up with a pediatric cardiologist—and eventually make the transition to an adult cardiologist. Many children with congenital heart defects are at risk for infective endocarditis, inflammation of the heart, and require antibiotic coverage before dental work or invasive procedures.

If surgery is not done, follow-up visits may still be needed as well as healthy lifestyle changes or a daily medication.