Here are some things for you to ask your child's pediatric cardiologist or pediatrician regarding your child's health.
Flu shots - Many children with congenital heart defects can be susceptible to the flu. Ask your doctor if your child and other members of your family should get flu shots to help prevent the flu in your household.
RSV vaccinations - Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the most common respiratory virus in infants and young children. In most infants, the virus causes symptoms resembling those of the common cold. In infants born prematurely and/or with chronic lung disease or heart problems, RSV can cause a severe or even life-threatening disease. Ask your cardiologist if your baby should get the RSV vaccine, and check to see if your insurance company will cover the cost. The vaccination consists of one shot per month during flu season, and each shot can cost over $1,000. For more information on the vaccine, contact the manufacturer at www.medimmune.com or call them at 877-633-4411.
Decongestants - Some children with heart defects should NOT take decongestants, as they can increase the heart rate and increase the chance of arrhythmias. Ask your child's cardiologist if your child can take decongestants when he or she has a cold.
Aspirin - Many children with heart defects take aspirin as a blood thinner. Ask your doctor if the aspirin should be discontinued if your child gets a fever or a viral illness. There is a small risk of contracting Reye's syndrome, a rare, potentially fatal childhood disease. It usually strikes children under the age of 15 who are recovering from an upper respiratory illness, chicken pox, or influenza. The cause of Reye's syndrome is unknown, but studies have found a link with the use of aspirin during a viral illness. For more information, contact the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation at www.reyessyndrome.org or call 1-800-233-7393.
Medications - It is important to understand what each medication does, whether to give it on a full or empty stomach, how often to give it, and if there are any reactions to other medications. If your child uses medications that are compounds, it is a good idea to check with the pharmacist and your cardiologist to make sure that all the necessary ingredients are included. (For example, if vitamin C - ascorbic acid - is not added to Captopril, it has a very short shelf-life.) Always double-check the concentration of medications - the dose you give depends upon how concentrated it is.
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