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:
First your doctor
will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. If your doctor
thinks that you may have endocarditis, he or she will check for signs of the
infection, such as a
heart murmur, an enlarged spleen, skin rashes, and
bleeding under your nails.
will be done to check for bacteria in your bloodstream. And other tests, such
echocardiogram, may be done to check your heart
function and look at your heart valves.
It is important to treat
endocarditis as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage to the heart muscle
or heart valves.
Antibiotics given through a
vein (intravenously, or by IV) are the usual treatment for endocarditis. If
your heart valves are damaged by the infection or if you have an artificial
heart valve, surgery to repair or replace the valve may be needed. You may also
need surgery if your endocarditis is caused by a fungus. If it is not treated,
endocarditis can be fatal.