If you have certain heart conditions, getting endocarditis is even more
dangerous for you. These heart conditions include:
If you have any of these heart conditions, you may need
to take antibiotics before you have certain dental and surgical procedures. The
antibiotics lower your risk of getting endocarditis. If you do not have these conditions, antibiotics are not likely to help you.
Procedures that may require antibiotics include:
- Certain dental work or dental surgery.
- Surgery on infected skin, bone, or muscle
- Certain medical procedures, such as a
Practicing good oral hygiene is especially important to
prevent endocarditis if you are at risk.
Your doctor can give you
a card to carry in your wallet. The card states that you may need preventive
antibiotics before certain procedures.
The symptoms of
endocarditis progress as the bacteria or fungi grow in your heart. Vague,
flu-like symptoms, such as a low-grade fever and fatigue, often occur first.
Most people with endocarditis begin to have symptoms within 2 weeks after
becoming infected with bacteria or fungi.
But a powerful strain of
bacteria may cause symptoms to appear much faster, within a few days.
- Chills and
- Weight loss.
- Painful joints.
- Persistent cough and shortness
- Bleeding under the fingernails.
- Tiny purple
and red spots under the skin.
Although symptoms are vague and may not seem worth
telling your doctor about, if they don't go away or if you know you are at risk
for endocarditis, contact your doctor.
If endocarditis is not
treated, the bacteria that cause endocarditis can form growths on or around the
heart valves. The growths prevent the heart valves from opening and closing
properly. This interrupts the normal blood flow through the valves and
interferes with the heart's pumping action. Blood can leak backwards instead of
being pumped forward. Over time,
heart failure can develop, because your heart may not
be able to pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.
Endocarditis can also cause other problems, including: