Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the the lining of the heart and the heart valves. This type of infection occurs when bacteria in the blood enter the heart. Bacterial endocarditis does not occur very often, but when it does it can cause serious heart damage.

Make an appointment to speak with a pediatric cardiologist, call 314.454.5437 or email us.

What Causes Bacterial Endocarditis?

Bacteria can enter the body in many ways. Existing heart problems raises the chance that bacteria will affect the heart. Your child is at higher risk for bacterial endocarditis if he or she has:

Some of the most common ways bacteria get into the blood of children include:

  • Dental work, such as professional teeth cleaning
  • Surgery to remove the tonsils or adenoids
  • Medical procedures, such as an exam of the airways with a bronchoscope
  • Surgery, such as some respiratory, gastrointestinal, or urinary tract surgeries

Make an appointment to speak with a pediatric cardiologist about your child's risk for bacterial endocarditis, call 314.454.5437 or email us.

What Are the Symptoms of Bacterial Endocarditis?

Symptoms of bacterial endocarditis can appear differently in each child. Symptoms may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, tiredness, aching muscles and joints, night sweats, and headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Pale skin
  • Bumps under the skin on the fingers and toes
  • Spots on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • Small broken blood vessels with tiny spots under the nails, on the whites of the eyes, in the mouth, or on the chest
  • Nausea and vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss
  • Discomfort in the belly
  • Blood in the urine
  • Swelling of the feet, legs, or abdomen

How Is Bacterial Endocarditis Diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask about any symptoms your child is exhibiting and about your child's health history. Your child will have a physical exam and other tests may include:

  • Echocardiogram (echo). This test looks at the structure of your child's heart and how well it is working. It uses sound waves to make a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.
  • Complete blood count (CBC). This test looks at all types of cells in your child's blood. These are red cells, white cells, and platelets.
  • Blood culture. This test looks for infection in your child's blood.

    Make an appointment to speak with a pediatric cardiologist about the diagnosis of bacterial endocarditis, call 314.454.5437 or email us.

    How Is Bacterial Endocarditis Treated?

    Treatment of bacterial endocarditis will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

    Treatment of bacterial endocarditis may include:

    • Antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually given through the vein (intravenous or IV) for several weeks. Your child will likely be in the hospital to get the medicine.
    • Surgery. Some children need valve replacement surgery if there is severe heart valve damage or if the infection can't be cleared due to an abscess.

    Your child will need ongoing care for bacterial endocarditis, including:

    • Repeat echocardiograms and blood tests after the infection
    • Regular health checkups
    • Regular dental checkups
    • Good daily oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing

    Make an appointment to speak with a pediatric cardiologist, call 314.454.5437 or email us.

    Can Bacterial Endocarditis Be Prevented?

    Bacterial endocarditis can't be entirely prevented. But some things can help. They include:

    • Making sure your child takes very good care of his or her teeth and gums
    • Taking your child to the dentist for regular cleaning and checkups
    • Practicing good hygiene

    Some children with heart problems may need to take antibiotics before dental and medical procedures. Talk with your child's doctor to find out if your child needs antibiotics.

    Make an appointment to speak with a pediatric cardiologist about bacterial endocarditis, call 314.454.5437 or email us.