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Carditis – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is Carditis?

Inflammation of muscle tissue in the heart is termed as carditis. The inflammation is classified into three categories based on the location of the inflammation. All three categories have similar diagnosis and medical doctors employ the same procedure in diagnosing the inflammation. The three categories of carditis are classified as:


Endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner heart tissue or the endocardium. Endocardium is an anatomical structure that makes up part of the heart. It is composed of endothelium and extracellular matrix forming the innermost tissue of the heart and line inner cavities of the heart. The condition endocarditis is caused by bacteria infecting the heart tissue through the bloodstream.


Inflammation in the muscle of the middle heart or myocardium is referred as myocarditis. Myocardium is the thickest muscle of the heart composed of cardiac muscle responsible for heart contraction to facilitate blood pumping in the ventricles and facilitate relaxation to enable atria to receive blood. Myocarditis is the result of bacterial infection to the heart tissue through the bloodstream.


Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium. Pericardium is a sac filled with fluid surrounding the heart to protect it. The condition happens when the sac-like covering of the heart becomes irritated and inflamed which is caused by viral infection specifically of echovirus or Coxsackie virus.

Carditis refers to the inflammation of muscle of the heart while the inflammation of the entire heart is referred to as Pancarditis.

Carditis Symptoms

Condition of carditis manifest with symptoms depending on the area affected by the inflammation and these are:


Endocarditis is experienced when bacteria entered the endocardium through the bloodstream and subsequently infecting it. The symptoms start manifesting after 2 weeks of bacterial incubation. Bacterial infection of endocardium will make itself known through symptoms like:

  • Low grade fever is usually the first symptom of mild infection while high grade fever appears for those with severe infection appearing faster than mild infection.
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Spots that appear on the skin usually reddish or purplish in color.
  • Persistent cough
  • Night sweating
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain sensation on joints
  • Bleeding of nail beds are often present
  • Weight loss


Symptoms of myocarditis vary depending on the severity and type of infection. Mild myocarditis often has no noticeable symptoms often feeling ill without realizing onset of myocarditis. Symptoms of myocarditis on the other hand differ with the common symptoms affecting adults and common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint and body pains
  • Fatigue
  • Arrhythmia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of legs, ankles and feet due to fluid retention

Children affected by myocarditis have symptoms like:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Discoloration on the skin which may be bluish or grayish


Pericarditis may be defined as acute and chronic. Acute pericarditis lasts in less than a few weeks while chronic pericarditis lasts 6 months or even longer. The symptoms of both types of pericarditis vary but they have common symptoms which are:

  • Sharp and piercing chest pain from the center or left side of the chest.
  • Shortness of breath when lying down.
  • Sensation of weakness and fatigue.
  • Fever in low grade.
  • Swelling of the legs or abdomen

Carditis Causes

Causes of is mostly due to infection however, it differs on which part of the heart is affected by the inflammation.

Endocarditis is caused by bacterial infection mostly by bacteria that thrives in the body which can be acquired through oral activities, existing medical condition, and dental procedures.

Myocarditis is caused by a variety of infections which may include virus, sarcoidosis or inflammation of tissues of the body and is also caused by immune disease and pregnancy.

Pericarditis cause is undetermined although viral infection is being suspected for the cause of this condition. It can also be caused by damaged to the heart muscle as a result of major heart attack. Systemic inflammatory disease, trauma, other health condition and even medications may also cause pericarditis.

Carditis Treatment

Treating carditis starts with identifying which area or part of the heart is infected and inflamed including severity of the inflammation to determine type of treatment to be administered to the patient.

Endocarditis is treated with antibiotics of high doses through intravenous infusion and may also require surgery if heart valve is damaged.

Myocarditis often recover on its own but can however be treated with antibiotics and antiviral medications.

Pericarditis symptom of chest pain needs immediate medical attention while medication depends on the cause of the underlying condition. Surgery may also be required to withdraw fluid in pericardial space as well as identify the cause.

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