Endocarditis is an infection that erupts the inner lining, the endocardium, of one’s heart. The condition usually happens when germs like bacteria migrate from other parts of one’s body especially from one’s mouth to his or her bloodstream and from there travel to the damaged areas of one’s heart.
An endocarditis that is not treated can damage or even destroy the heart valves of the affected person and can result in complications that are threat full to life. Antibiotics can be used for the treatment of endocarditis. In certain cases surgery is suggested as a remedy. Those people who have healthy heart are scarcely diagnosed with endocarditis. However those people who have artificial heart valves or damaged heart valves are commonly discovered with the disease.
Symptoms of Endocarditis
Endocarditis is a disease that can gradually develop or slowly depends upon the cause of infection and the underlying heart problems. The signs and symptoms of endocarditis are as follows:
- Strange and new voice of heart – the abnormal sound will pronounce the rush of blood through heart
- Night sweats
- Ache in joints and muscles
- Shortness of breathness
- Unexpected and unexplainable weight loss
- Swelling in abdomen, legs or feet
- Persistent cough
- Tenderness in spleen
- Nodes of Osler
- Causes of Endocarditis
Endocarditis occurs when germs enter your bloodstream, travel to your heart, and attach to abnormal heart valves or damaged heart tissue. Bacteria cause most cases, but fungi or other microorganisms can also lead to the disorder. Mostly the responsible organism belongs to the mouth, nose or some other parts of body. In rest of the cases the organism can make its way to the blood stream through multi mediums, such as:
Insignificant routine activities can lead the bacteria into blood stream such as brushing one’s teeth, chewing food. However, the poor condition of your gums is common in all cases.
Bacteria is eager to avail all possible opportunities of entering into one’s blood. In case you have infection in any part of our body bacteria will travel into your blood stream. An infected area in the skin sore, gum disease, intestinal disorder (for example inflammatory bowel disease) and sexually transmitted diseases can spread bacteria.
The easiest way bacteria can take to enter in one’s body is through catheter and needles. Catheter is the thin tube doctors usually use to extract or inject fluid into the body. The use of needle for body piercing or tattooing can also become a cause of giving the bacteria of endocarditis an entry into your blood stream. Contaminated syringes and needles are a serious concern for all those people who use intravenous (IV) drugs.
The dental procedures that are carried after cutting your gum can also smooth the way of bacteria into your body.
The immune system of the body is effective enough to destroy the bacteria even before entering the blood stream. In case bacteria remain successful in reaching to your bacteria still it is not necessary that it will affect the heart.
Many times it goes out of the heart without causing any effects. Most of the people diagnosed with endocarditis have a damaged or disease valve that provides space to the bacteria so it can settle there. In endocardium the damaged tissues provide bacteria ample coarse space where bacteria can stick and multiply.
Risk Factors of Endocarditis
There are number of risk factors that are significant for a layman. Here are some of the risk factors associated with endocarditis.
Chambers and valves of the heart
The chances of developing endocarditis decreases in case one has a healthy heart. It is interesting to know that most of the heart diseases do not lead to endocarditis. Germs of infection only attach to the surgically implanted valve or the damaged valve.
Artificial heart valves
Bacteria usually stick to the prosthetic or artificial heart valve as compared to the normal heart valve. In the first year of implantation the risk of developing endocarditis is maximum.
Specific heart types
Being born with a certain type of heart makes one vulnerable to acquire endocarditis.
History of endocarditis
If one has a history of damaged tissues by the endocarditis then the risk of again developing endocarditis multiplies.
Damaged valves of heart
There are certain medical conditions that can damage one’s heart valves such as rheumatic fever or infection. As a result the muscles become prone to develop the infection.
History of illegal drugs
Those people who have a history of intravenous (IV) illegal drugs usage history are at more risk of getting endocarditis. The needle used for injecting drugs is usually contaminated with bacteria.
It is suggested that all those people who have any heart defect or have undergone any kind of transplantation must ask their physician for detailed precautions that can avoid any kind of emerging threats. At times one may not have any disturbance or symptoms in the beginning but the absence of signs do not mean that the there is no threat. The bacteria can accumulate at any time to inflict infection so it is better that one must figure out it as soon as possible.