Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Endocarditis is an infectious and inflammatory process that affects the lining of the heart and valves. It can affect individuals of all ages and is curable with treatment. The disease can be detected by performing blood cultures and an echocardiogram (a type of ultrasound). The usual cause is a bacteria such as staph or strep, but it can also be caused by a fungal infection. The bacteria or fungus can enter the bloodstream from infections elsewhere in the body (e.g., the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, or the skin), or as a result of any surgical or dental procedure.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms of the disease include fever, fatigue, weakness, chills and night sweats, muscle and joint pain, and a heart murmur. Later there may be swelling of the feet and legs, and shortness of breath with an irregular heartbeat.

Antibiotics will be needed for 4–6 weeks. If intravenous antibiotics are prescribed, a home health nurse will be arranged to continue intravenous antibiotics at home. Bed rest is needed until recovery is complete. Non-aspirin medications such as Tylenol can be used for fever and minor pain. A regular diet can be followed as tolerated. Fluid intake should be increased while fever is present. Good dental hygiene is needed to prevent infection.

The DOs
• Take the antibiotics until finished.
• Use nonaspirin products for fever and minor pain.
• Increase fluid intake especially during the fever.
• Maintain bed rest as ordered.
• Move your legs and change position frequently while in bed.
• Resume normal activity gradually as your strength allows.
• See your dentist regularly. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t skip doses or stop the antibiotics until you have finished a complete treatment course of antibiotics, or your doctor tells you to stop the antibiotics.
• Don’t try to keep your normal schedule; bed rest is needed to have a full recovery.
• Don’t have dental work or surgical procedures in the future without notifying the doctor of your history of endocarditis.
• Don’t floss your teeth because it may introduce bacteria from the gums. See your dentist frequently for proper gum care.

When to Call Your Doctor
After your treatment you have:
• Fever.
• Loss of appetite or weight gain without diet changes.
• Blood in your urine.
• Chest pain or shortness of breath.
• Sudden weakness in the muscles of the face or limbs.