Categorized | Child Health Issues, Health

Heart Murmur In Children

A heart murmur is an unusual sound heard during a heartbeat. It sounds like a hissing, whooshing or gurgling noise. It is not uncommon for children to have one at some time or another. Here are some information to help you better understand heart murmur in children.

Types of Heart Murmurs

  • Innocent Murmurs – a harmless sound common in healthy children that is caused by blood flowing through a normal heart (no indications of a heart problem)
  • Abnormal Murmurs – a toddler with an abnormal heart murmur normally has other symptoms of a heart problem due to congenital heart defects

Who are at risk?

Toddlers with a family history of a heart disease and those who were exposed to alcohol, drugs, certain medications and illnesses (e.g. diabetes, rubella infection) while inside their mothers’ womb are at risk of developing abnormal heart murmurs.

Causes

The exact cause of innocent heart murmurs is unknown. But, according to health experts, extra blood flow through the heart can result to innocent heart murmurs. Abnormal heart murmurs are caused by congenital heart disorders such as heart valve disease, holes in the heart, rheumatic fever and endocarditis (swelling of the inner lining of the heart and valves).

Signs and Symptoms

An innocent heart murmur does not cause symptoms. However, if a toddler has an abnormal murmur, he may display the following signs:

  • Bluish skin
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive sweating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Exhaustion
  • Vertigo

How is heart murmur evaluated?

Your toddler’s doctor will check his pulse and blood pressure and use a stethoscope to listen to his heart to gauge whether a murmur is innocent or abnormal. To check the murmur, the doctor will consider the following clues – how loud it is (rated on a scale from 1 to 6, 6 being the loudest), what pitch it is (high, medium or low pitched), when it happens and for how long, where the sound is heard and if the noise changes if your toddler changes his body position.

If the doctor diagnosed the heart murmur as normal, you do not have anything to worry about and treatment is not needed. If the doctor believes your toddler’s heart murmur is abnormal, the expert may recommend you to a pediatric cardiologist who will perform additional tests such as a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG) which accounts the electrical activity of the heart or an ultrasound to examine and create an image of the heart.

Treatment

Treatment for abnormal heat murmurs depend on the type and severity of the problem. Generally, treatment is unnecessary since regular check-ups can help monitor the condition over time. But, if the heart murmur is severe, your toddler may have to take medications to control the heartbeat or undergo surgery or catheterization to correct the defect.

Most heart murmurs are safe and it is normal for your toddler’s heart to beat very fast at times especially when doing physically demanding activities, crying or if your little one has a fever. But if you are really worried, talk to your child’s doctor, just to be sure.

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