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Heart-Infection-thumb-size

What is Heart Infection?

Heart-Infection-Blog-Image

Heart infections occur when an irritant such as bacteria, a virus, a parasite, or a chemical reaches your heart muscle. An infection can cause inflammation or damage to your heart’s inner lining, valves, outer membrane, or the heart muscle itself.

Types of Heart Infection

Your heart has three main layers, any of which can be the site of a heart infection. The types of heart infection include:

Endocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the endocardium. This is the inner most layer of the heart. The endocardium lines the inside of the four heart chambers and the four heart valves. Endocarditis is the most common type of heart infection. It most often occurs in people with pre-existing valve disease and other heart problems. Treatment usually requires hospitalization.

Myocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the myocardium. This is the middle muscular layer of the heart. Viral infections are one of several causes of myocarditis. This type of heart infection is rare.

Pericarditis is an infection or inflammation of the pericardium. This is the outer layer or membrane covering the heart. A viral infection is the most common cause. It occurs most often in men age 20 to 50 years from a viral infection. Typically, people recover with rest and treatment of symptoms.

General symptoms of a heart infection include chest pain, fever, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can also be present with a life-threatening condition, such as heart attack. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have these symptoms.

Causes of Heart Infection

Pericarditis can be caused by a viral infection or after a heart attack or heart surgery. It can also develop as the result of inflammatory autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis; trauma to the heart or chest; health disorders like kidney failure or AIDS; and certain medications, although this is unusual.

Endocarditis usually occurs when germs travel through your bloodstream, travel to your heart, and attach to damaged heart tissue. Bacteria can spread as the result of unhealthy teeth and gums, a skin sore, certain dental procedures, a sexually transmitted infection, or a catheter or needle.

Myocarditis is generally caused by a viral infection or autoimmune disease. Because the condition is so unusual, research is still being done on its causes.

What are the symptoms of a heart infection?

Heart infection symptoms with endocarditis can be obvious and develop quickly. This is acute endocarditis, which can rapidly become serious and life threatening. However, they can also be vague and develop gradually, even over months. This is subacute or chronic endocarditis.

Common symptoms of a heart infection

The most common symptoms of endocarditis are:

  • Chest pain, especially with breathing
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, chills, and sweats
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the abdomen or lower extremities

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, a heart infection can cause life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion, disorientation or difficulty understanding speech
  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Severe headache
  • Slurred or garbled speech, or inability to speak
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden weakness, numbnessor paralysis on one side of the body or face

Even if you do not have these potentially life-threatening symptoms, it is wise to seek medical care for any symptoms of heart infection.

Treatment of a heart infection

Heart infections are generally treated with one or more of the following methods:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Medications used to treat heart failure.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Drugs that reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Occasionally, surgery.
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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism in Children

Hypothyroidism-in-Children-Blog-Image

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is located in the lower front of the neck, just above the collarbone. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are released into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. In children, thyroid hormone helps to ensure that growth and development occur normally and that the body’s energy, metabolism, heart, muscles, and other organs are working properly.

Hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone deficiency.

In children, hypothyroidism can be present at birth (a condition called congenital hypothyroidism) or it can develop later in childhood. When the thyroid gland stops working despite being normal in the newborn period it is called ‘acquired’ hypothyroidism.

Causes of Hypothyroidism in Children

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in children is a family history of the disease. Children whose parents, grandparents, or siblings have hypothyroidism are at a higher risk for thyroid disease. This is also true if there’s a family history of immune problems that impact the thyroid.

Autoimmune conditions, such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, more commonly appear during puberty. These thyroid conditions more frequently affect girls than boys.

Other common causes of hypothyroidism in children include:

  • not enough iodine in a child’s diet
  • being born with a nonfunctional thyroid or without a thyroid gland (also called congenital hypothyroidism)
  • improper treatment of a mother’s thyroid disease during pregnancy
  • abnormal pituitary gland

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

There are no signs or symptoms that are unique to hypothyroidism. Also, because the condition can develop slowly over many years, the symptoms may be less noticeable or ignored.

  • Two important symptoms in children are:
  • Slowing of height – an important early sign of hypothyroidism in children and
  • Pubertal development that may be delayed in adolescents.

An important finding on physical exam is an enlarged thyroid, also called a goiter

Other hypothyroid symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue (being more tired than expected)
  • Constipation
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Dry skin
  • Dry and brittle hair (more in the shower, on brush, clothing and bedding)
  • Depression
  • Irregular and/or heavy menstrual periods
  • Weight gain. Hypothyroidism can slow metabolism, but most people do not gain excess weight only because of low thyroid hormone.

Because the symptoms are so variable and nonspecific (may be caused by things other than the thyroid), the only way to know for sure whether a child or teenager has hypothyroidism is to perform a blood test.

How to Diagnosis?

The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made with a blood test for two hormones:

  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is the most sensitive test for hypothyroidism. TSH is made in the pituitary, a gland at the base of the brain that controls our hormone system. If the thyroid gland is not working, the pituitary releases more TSH to try to get the thyroid to make more thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Less commonly, the thyroid may be normal and it is the pituitary that cannot make enough TSH. This is called ‘central’ hypothyroidism and may be caused by medications, illness, a brain injury or a mass/tumor near the pituitary.
  • T4 levels measure the amount of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) that is in the blood. Often this test will measure the level of “free T4” (abbreviated FT4). FT4 is the form that is not attached to a protein and can enter and affect the body’s cells.
  • Thyroid auto-antibodies – the immune system makes antibodies against thyroid proteins (called thyroid peroxidase or TPO) and the antibody levels may be measured to confirm the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. Many patients who have thyroid autoantibodies continue to have normal thyroid hormone levels. In this situation, it may be hard to predict if and/or when the person will need thyroid medication.
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