The infection of the innermost lining of the heart, mostly heart chambers and heart valves is called endocarditis. It may be caused by bacteria, virus, fungi, congenital heart diseases and other causes. The inflammation of endocardium (innermost lining) of the heart mediated by bacteria is termed as bacterial endocarditis. It is an uncommon disease which has serious potential to damage the heart and can trigger fatal complications threatening the life.
Although our heart is designed in such a manner, that it cannot be affected by infection in normal healthy persons. Those who are immune deficient or, have congenital heart disease or undergone some heart implant surgery, are more prone to develop the infection.
What are the Symptoms of Bacterial Endocarditis?
Bacterial endocarditis may develop rapidly in a span of few days to few weeks, and is known as acute bacterial endocarditis. If it represents the gradual development of symptoms from several months to a year, it is termed as sub-acute bacterial endocarditis.
The signs and symptoms of bacterial endocarditis may alter from person to person. The disease can show wide variation in the representation of symptoms in the same person over a time. The underlying cause, and the course of development, either acute or sub-acute, decides the signs and symptoms in a person.
The signs and symptoms of bacterial endocarditis are-
Symptoms resembling flu are the earliest symptom that develops in the patients with bacterial endocarditis:
Fever – Patient may experience a high temperature of 100.4 F (38C) or above. It comes and goes for a period of time.
Chills- There may be few episodes of chills in a day.
Sweating – Patient feels much sweating at night.
Fatigue – He is always tired and weary.
Body Ache- He feels pain in the muscles and joints.
Headaches- He is troubled by a frequent headache during the fever.
- The other prominent symptom of bacterial endocarditis is the shortness of breath or a cough which is persistent and dry. Shortness of breath is experienced especially during any physical activity.
- A new heart murmur (a whooshing or swishing sound produced in the heart between two heartbeats) or an alteration of the existing heart murmur can be felt.
- Weight loss can also result from the disease with or without the decrease in appetite.
- Some patients complain of nausea, vomiting, the sensation of fullness and discomfort on the upper left side of the abdomen.
The affection of skin is also very common in the patients with Bacterial Endocarditis. The skin changes that occur are following-
- Paleness develops throughout the body.
- Bumps appear under the skin on the fingers or toes. These are small, raised, painful and red or purple in color.
- Spots are seen on the palm of the hands or soles of the feet. These spots are flat, small in size, dark in color, and painless in nature.
- Tiny spots also can show its existence in nail beds of the finger, white portion of the eye, on the roof of the mouth, inside the cheeks or on the chest. The main cause behind the spots is the broken blood vessels near the spots.
- Bloody urine is also another representation.
- Diarrhea can also happen in some cases.
The patient may feel following late symptoms long after few days or weeks of infection-
- High fever and severe episodes of chills
- Shortness of breath on slightest exertion
- Edema in the feet, legs or abdomen
- Irregular and rapid heartbeats
Bacterial endocarditis can develop by a mere infection. If the disease is not managed in time, it may complicate into serious life-threatening consequences.