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What are the Symptoms of Endocarditis?

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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Several symptoms accompany endocarditis ranging from fever, shortness of breath, to internal bleeding. Endocarditis is defined as inflammation or infection of the heart valves or the inner lining of the heart chambers. Symptoms of endocarditis occur when bacteria enter the bloodstream. Any of these symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor to confirm an accurate diagnosis and provide treatment before the infection worsens. Patients generally receive long-term treatment to remove bacteria from the heart valves and chambers.

Endocarditis comes with a long list of symptoms that either develop over time or attack the heart suddenly. Flu-like symptoms may appear, such as chills, excessive sweating, and a fever of higher than 100° Fahrenheit (approximately 38° Celsius). The fever may last for several days and can also be followed by a headache, joint inflammation, and muscle ache.

Other symptoms of endocarditis should be treated immediately and never be ignored because the condition sometimes results in death. These symptoms include shortness of breath, internal bleeding under the fingernails known as splinter hemorrhaging, and weight loss and loss of appetite. Fatigue and weakness, rash, and swelling of the abs, legs, and feet also indicate symptoms of endocarditis. The doctor must be alerted to other signs or symptoms of endocarditis, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, white patches in the mouth, or a prolonged dry or moist cough that exceeds two days. Severe signs may indicate a bacterial strain of endocarditis.

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Bacterial infections often lead to symptoms of endocarditis when bacteria and fungi travel through the bloodstream and target the heart lining or heart valves. Bacteria or fungi can enter the body through the mouth or appear on the skin, particularly through a wound. Other parts of the body where bacteria can form include the urinary tract, respiratory system, and the intestines. Patients with cardiovascular disease or who have had heart, dental, or other invasive surgery are more susceptible to developing symptoms of endocarditis, causing inflammation and infection of the heart.

Diagnosis of endocarditis requires an evaluation of symptoms, followed by a physical examination, to help detect the infection. Common tests that a doctor uses to diagnose endocarditis include a blood culture and a serology exam, which tests the blood serum and bodily fluids for endocarditis. Additional tests such as an echocardiogram and a chest X-ray also can identify the presence of endocarditis.

After the detection of symptoms of endocarditis, a patient must endure long-term antibiotic therapy in a hospital. During the therapy, the patient receives medication intravenously to ensure the removal of bacteria that caused endocarditis. On average, the process takes about six weeks to effectively eliminate the bacteria from the heart area. Heart valve surgery may be necessary if symptoms of endocarditis caused scarring or heart failure.

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