Endocarditis is a life-threatening condition in which inflammation of the heart lining occurs. The inflammation involves the inner chambers of the heart and the outer linings too. The most common cause of endocarditis is bacteria. But fungi can also cause it.
Sometimes the bacteria enter your body through the mouth or some other way. From there, it gets into your blood, which can eventually lead to endocarditis. Therefore, no infection should be taken lightly. If you or anyone in your family has a complaint of fever, you should consult with a healthcare provider.
Endocarditis needs to be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, it can lead to life-threatening complications. If not treated on time, it can cause defects in your heart valves, for which you may need surgery. The general treatment for endocarditis is medications or sometimes surgery.
What are the Symptoms of Endocarditis?
The symptoms of endocarditis may develop slowly and gradually. They also depend on the causative agent and other health conditions you have. However, the signs and symptoms of endocarditis are:
- Painful joints and muscles
- Chest pain upon breathing
- Flu-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Heart murmur- a sound that your healthcare provider can hear by placing the stethoscope on your chest
- Swelling in the abdomen, feet, and legs
The less common signs and symptoms of endocarditis are:
- Unintentional weight loss
- Red blood cells in urine
- Tender spleen- an organ that helps fight off infections, placed under the left-hand side rib cage
- Janeway lesions- red spots on the palm of your hands and sole of your feet
- Osler’s node-red and tender spots, under the skin of your toes or fingers
- Petechiae-purple or red tiny spots
When Should You See a Doctor?
You may not be able to know that you have endocarditis by the symptoms. Sometimes it is often mistaken as other infections. However, if you are diagnosed with endocarditis, you should visit the healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
If your healthcare provider has prescribed you the antibiotics for endocarditis, you should tell them if you have any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms as they may indicate a drug reaction.
What are the Causes of Endocarditis?
Endocarditis occurs when germs enter your body. Infection of any part of the body, when remains untreated, can reach the blood. Since your blood travels from the heart, the germs in the blood can also infect the heart linings, eventually causing its inflammation. Therefore it is essential to get proper treatment for the infection. When your healthcare provider prescribes you the antibiotic, make sure you take it in the same dose and quantity as prescribed by the doctor.
Bacteria, fungi, and the virus can enter your body through the following routes:
Improper Dental Care
To keep yourself healthy, you need to take good care of your oral cavity. You must make a habit of brushing your teeth and flossing them.
The catheter is a tube that is inserted into your body to drain fluids or to collect urine from the bladder to the outside. Sometimes the germs can enter directly to your body through catheters, eventually causing infection. Therefore you need to take extra care of the patient having a catheter inserted.
IV drug Abuse
People who abuse drugs do not get new syringes. Therefore they end up using the used ones. It can be highly dangerous for their health and can cause infections.
The risk factors for endocarditis can be:
- Being an older aged individual
- Having artificial or damaged heart valves
- Congenital heart defects
- A history of endocarditis
- Implated heart device
- Poor dental hygiene