Congenital Heart Defects: Caring for Your Child - Topic Overview
Coping with oxygen problems
Some heart defects, called cyanotic defects, cause oxygen problems. This means that the child's body isn't getting a normal amount of oxygen. Children with cyanosis may have a bluish tint to the skin.
If your child has
- Attempt to calm the child. This is the most
important thing you can do.
- Try placing the child with his or her knees to
the chest—either on the back with the knees drawn up to the chest or in
a sitting position with the chest to the knees.
- You may need to
give your child oxygen if the spells are severe and don't improve with a
change in position. Oxygen is given by placing a small tube at the entrance to
the nostrils. Your doctor will determine the proper amount of oxygen needed.
- Note when the spells occur, and plan activities to try to decrease
- Try to prevent the cyanosis by keeping your child
warm, decreasing activity, and frequently feeding small
- Notify your child's doctor when a blue spell occurs.
Oxygen therapy. Your child
may need extra oxygen at home. It is given through a small tube that rests at
the entrance to your child's nose. Oxygen can cause a fire to burn very
rapidly, so no smoking or open flames are allowed in the room where oxygen is
being used. The amount of oxygen will be prescribed by your child's doctor. Don't change the amount of oxygen you give your child without the advice of your
Be sure you know how to give
your child's medicines safely. Heart medicines can be very strong, so they can be dangerous if they are not given correctly.
- Be sure you understand how much medicine to give
and how to give it.
- If your child takes a blood thinner, be sure to get instructions about how to give this medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.
- If you aren't comfortable giving medicine to
your child, ask a health professional to help you.
- A home health nurse can help. Talk to your doctor
about having a home health nurse visit you. The nurse can set up a schedule for the medicines, show
you how to store them, and help you become more comfortable giving them.
Giving a child medicine isn't always easy. If you aren't comfortable giving medicine to your child,
ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:
- If the baby spits out or throws up the medicine,
do I give another dose?
- If a dose of medicine is missed, should I
give an extra or a double dose?
- How soon after starting the
medicine should I expect my child to start getting better?
- If the
medicine is to be given 3 or 4 times a day, do I need to wake my child at
night for a dose of the medicine?
- Should I give the medicine with
food? If my child refuses to take the medicine, is it okay to add the medicine
to food or drink to get the child to take it?
- Can other medicines
be given at the same time?
- What are the most common side effects of