Symptoms of endocarditis vary from person to person, but some of the more common symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, aching joints and swelling in extremities, according to Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms of endocarditis include persistent cough, weight loss, blood in the urine, tenderness in the spleen and Osler's nodes.
People displaying symptoms of endocarditis should seek immediate medical attention. This is especially true if there is a history of a previous case of endocarditis, or if any other risk factors have been noted, advises Mayo Clinic. Risk factors that increase the chance of developing endocarditis include artificial heart valves, congenital heart defects, damaged heart valves or a history of intravenous illegal drug use.
Endocarditis is an infection in the endocardium, or inner lining, of the heart. This infection occurs when bacteria from other places in the body enter the bloodstream and are transferred to the heart. The bacteria typically enters the body through the mouth, a catheter, a needle or through an infection already present in the body. Some dental procedures that require cutting the gingiva also increase the risk of developing endocarditis, according to Mayo Clinic.
If left untreated, endocarditis is known to cause stroke and organ damage, additional infections in other parts of the body and even heart failure. Treatment includes a course of high-dose intravenous antibiotics. If heart valves are damaged by the infection, or if the infection persists, surgery is necessary, states Mayo Clinic.