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Heart Infection (Bacterial Endocarditis): Prevention

What is bacterial endocarditis?

Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the lining inside the heart. Bacteria attach to the lining, usually on the heart valves. The bacteria grow there and can damage the valves.

Children with some kinds of heart defects or heart disease (such as rheumatic fever) are more likely to get this infection. Their healthcare provider may recommend that they take antibiotics before some procedures to help prevent infection.

When should my child take antibiotics?

Dental Work

Dental work that may cause bleeding is more likely to allow bacteria to get into the bloodstream. Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics before dental treatments that may cut gums or other places inside the mouth, such as:

  • Cleaning teeth
  • Cutting tissue
  • Probing the gums
  • Putting a tooth back in after it was knocked out

Your child does not need to take the medicine if there will be no bleeding. Dental work that usually does not cause bleeding includes:

  • Filling cavities
  • Getting a shot to numb the mouth
  • Adjusting braces
  • Getting fluoride treatments

Antibiotics are not needed when your child loses baby teeth.

Medical Procedures

Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend antibiotics before surgeries and procedures that involve:

  • The nose, mouth, and upper part of the airway (such as surgery to remove the tonsils)
  • The esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, intestines, and bile ducts.
  • The genitals or urinary tract.

Your child does not need antibiotics for procedures such as:

  • Putting in ear tubes
  • Circumcision

Always talk to your provider if you have any questions and be sure to tell your provider if your child is allergic to any medicines.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-09-17
Last reviewed: 2012-04-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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