Bacteria that move from certain parts of the body, such as the throat and mouth, via the blood to damaged areas or abnormal valves in the heart can cause bacterial endocarditis, according to Mayo Clinic. Certain oral activities, some dental procedures, certain medical conditions and nonsterilized needles may cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
Chewing food and brushing teeth may make bacteria travel from infected teeth and gums into the bloodstream, explains Mayo Clinic. Sexually transmitted diseases, intestinal disorders and gum problems may cause spread of bacteria as well. Abnormal or damaged heart valves, a personal history of endocarditis, artificial heart valves, intravenous illegal drugs, and hereditary heart defects may render a person vulnerable to endocarditis.
Symptoms include unintended weight loss, lasting cough, fatigue, abnormal heart murmurs, and joint or muscle pain, according to Mayo Clinic. Bloody urine, shortness of breath, fever and chills may also indicate that a person has endocarditis. A person with such symptoms requires immediate medical attention.
Diagnosis includes blood tests, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, computerized tomography scan and other tests, explains Mayo Clinic. Taking IV antibiotics in the hospital for at least two weeks may help counter the problem. Surgery may be necessary if the problem persists or if the heart valves are damaged severely. Taking preventive antibiotics and managing body hygiene may help prevent endocarditis.