Bacterial endocarditis develops once bacteria enters the bloodstream and attacks the lining of the heart valves. This results to growths on the valves and produces toxins and enzymes that destroy the tissue, resulting to holes on the valve and spreads to the heart and blood vessels.
The potential complications include embolism, heart block, leaky valve and abscesses around the valve. If not treated, endocarditis is a deadly disease.
A doctor should be consulted if any of these indications of infection are present:
- Fever higher than 100 degrees F
- Skin rash
- Sweating or chills especially night sweats
- Cut or wound that does not heal
- Tenderness, pain, swelling or redness
- Warm, reddened or draining sore
- Sinus drainage, headaches, nasal congestion or soreness throughout the upper cheekbones
- Sore throat, scratchy throat or discomfort when swallowing
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- White patches in the mouth or tongue
- Tenacious dry or moist cough that persists more than 2 days
Management of bacterial endocarditis
Once an individual ends up with bacterial endocarditis, prompt treatment is required to prevent damage to the heart valves and other serious complications including death.
As soon as the blood cultures have been taken, intravenous antibiotic therapy is started. The antibiotics are adjusted to the sensitivity of the organism in the blood culture as soon as possible.
The intravenous antibiotics are generally given for up to 6 weeks to deal with the infection. The symptoms are monitored during therapy and the blood culture is repeated to check the effectiveness of the treatment.
In case there is damage to the heart valves and heart itself, surgery might be needed to repair the valve and improve heart function. Once treatment is finished, the individual should be checked for any sources of bacteremia and these must be properly treated.