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Myocarditis in Children: Care Instructions

Cross section of heart, with close-up of heart muscle that makes up the wall of the heart.


Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. It might happen after an infection, such as COVID-19, strep throat, or tuberculosis. It may also be caused by a reaction to a medicine or toxin. Some autoimmune diseases cause it too. Rarely, it occurs in older teens after they get certain COVID-19 vaccines.

Treatment depends on how severe the illness is. If your child is having other heart problems, the doctor will treat them at the same time. Your child may need medicine for their heart. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more rest, may be part of the treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Ask your child's doctor what level and type of activity is safe.
    • Don't let your child play sports or do tiring exercise until the doctor says it's okay.
    • Have your child rest when they feel tired.
    • Ask the doctor when your child can go back to school or daycare.
  • Keep track of your child's weight each day, if your doctor asks you to.
  • Give your child heart-healthy foods. This includes lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, non-fat and low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. For babies, make sure they are feeding well.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your home.
  • Make sure your child gets all recommended vaccines. These help keep your child healthy.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child stops breathing or has severe trouble breathing. Signs may include:
    • Turning blue.
    • The belly moves in and out or the nostrils flare with every breath.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or changed symptoms of heart failure, such as:
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Swelling in the belly, legs, ankles, or feet.
    • Sudden weight gain in 2 or 3 days. (Your doctor can tell you how much weight gain to watch for.)
    • Feeling dizzy or light-headed.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • A baby or very young child has symptoms that may mean there is a problem. These include fast breathing, sweating while eating, not eating well, and not gaining enough weight.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child has less energy or is sleeping more than usual.
  • Your child is not eating or drinking well.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.