Many parents get worried sick when they find out that their kid has heart murmurs. This condition refers to the weird sounds made by the blood flowing through the heart. Some of these noises are very soft, but when you use a stethoscope, you’ll clearly hear them in between the normal “lub-dub” beats.
Should this condition be a cause of concern? The short answer is, in most cases, no—but sometimes, yes.
The Case of “Innocent Murmurs”
In children aged 3 to 7, heart murmurs are often harmless. These usually happen when the blood circulates more quickly through the heart, say when your child is excited or scared.
There are three types of innocent murmurs. The first one still murmurs. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a quiet one, which makes it hard to hear especially when your kid is sitting or lying on their stomach. But the noises are often located at the left side of the breastbone, adjacent to the nipple.
The second type is the pulmonic murmur. The noises get heard when the blood rushes to the pulmonary artery or the blood vessels of the lungs. The last one is the venous hum, which is created when the blood passes through the large veins in the neck. You can hear it more prominently above your kid’s collarbone area.
These innocent murmurs occur in normal, healthy hearts. They don’t increase the risk of medical conditions. So there’s no need to encourage special diets or restrict activities for your kid. As your child grows up, these murmurs will go away. But even if they don’t, there’s still no need to worry.
The Abnormal Type of Heart Murmurs
Although in many instances, heart murmurs in kids are normal, there are a few cases of exceptions, which may require you to seek pediatric treatment. Doctors explain that when the condition appears very early on, as in the first 6 months of life, there’s a good chance that the noises aren’t normal.
The culprit behind this is typically structural problems in the heart. For one, there could be holes in the heart, medically known as septal defects. This triggers abnormal blood flow between the heart chambers, leading to extra noises. It may also be a case of abnormalities in the heart valve. When the valves don’t allow enough blood or are unable to close, it may also result in heart murmurs.
In abnormal heart murmurs, babies often experience difficulty breathing or feeding. You may notice changes in skin color, too, with them turning blue. To diagnose the condition, doctors use chest X-rays and electrocardiograms to see the heart’s electrical activity, and an echocardiogram to get a picture of the inside of the vital organ using sound waves.
Treatment may include medicines or surgery. In other instances, doctors only recommend frequent check-ups, as some holes or structural defects in the heart may close or be resolved on their own as your child grows.
Heart murmurs are often normal, except when they’re brought about by congenital heart problems. The best way to have peace of mind is to take your child to the doctor, have them diagnosed and treated, if necessary.