Bacterial Endocarditis: All You Need to Know

Bacterial endocarditis is a condition marked by inflammation in the endocardium, i.e. the inner lining of the heart and the heart valves. Though the condition is not very common, it should not be taken for granted as it can induce serious damage to your child’s heart. The condition is triggered when the bacteria present in the blood enter the heart and infect it. The symptoms are somewhat similar to those of common flu. As per the best paediatric cardio surgeons in Pune, mild infections can be easily treated with the help of antibiotics, however, if the treatment is delayed, it can give rise to serious complications. Hence it is very important to look out for the following symptoms:

  • Chills, joint aches, night sweats and other flu-like symptoms
  • Breathlessness
  • Persistent cough
  • Pale skin with bumps and spots
  • Broken blood vessels under the nails, on the eyes and in the mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Traces of blood in the urine
  • Oedema, triggered by fluid retention
  • Feeling nauseated

Wondering how these bacteria enter your child’s body?

Experts from the leading child cardiology hospital in Mumbai suggest that there are a couple of ways in which these bacteria can enter into your little one’s body. This may be a result of a medical procedure or surgery involving the respiratory, gastrointestinal, or urinary tract. The bacteria might also enter the blood during tonsil or adenoid removal surgery.

It has been found that children with an already existing heart problem are at an increased risk of developing bacterial endocarditis. Your child will be at an increased risk of developing bacterial endocarditis if he/she has any of the following:

  • Prosthetic heart valve
  • History of endocarditis
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart transplant
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Compromised immune system

How is bacterial endocarditis diagnosed in a child?

The diagnosis of bacterial endocarditis involves a series of tests. The doctors will start by assessing your child’s medical history and ask some questions related to the same. A physical examination will be carried out for better evaluation. Other tests which may be recommended by the doctor include:

  • Echocardiogram – It involves the use of sound waves to generate real-time images of your heart and heart valves. It is done to look out for any structural abnormalities in the heart, as well as to assess its working
  • Complete blood count test – This is done to assess the various blood cells present in your body
  • Blood culture – This helps to look for the traces of infection in the blood.

What are the treatment options available?

The treatment varies from one child to another depending upon various factors that include the age of the patient, symptoms experienced, adversity of the infection, and the child’s general health.

Medications – There are used to treat mild cases of bacterial endocarditis and include antibiotics, which are usually given intravenously. These medicines can be given in the hospital or at home.

Surgery – Surgery is recommended in case of severe endocarditis. It involves the replacement of the infected valve with a prosthetic one.

Why shouldn’t the condition be left untreated?

Bacterial endocarditis, if left untreated, can lead to various life-threatening complications like

  • Heart failure
  • Blood clots
  • Bacterial clumps
  • Weakening of blood vessel (aneurysm
  • Renal ailments

Hence, it is important to seek immediate medical intervention and get your child evaluated from the best child specialist in Pune as soon as possible.

How can you bring down the risks?

Though you cannot completely negate the risks of bacterial endocarditis, you can alleviate the same by following these simple tips;

  • Make your child practice good oral hygiene
  • Go for regular dental check-ups
  • Have your little one take the full dose of antibiotics prescribed to treat an infection