Preventing Endocarditis

NHS

If you have an increased risk of developing endocarditis, it's important to limit your exposure to any infection that could trigger it. The same is true if you have previously been affected by endocarditis, as it can often recur in certain people.

Practise good oral hygiene

If you're at increased risk of developing endocarditis, it's important that you practise good oral and dental hygiene. Do not let abscesses and gum disease go untreated.

Visit your dentist on a regular basis to ensure you maintain good oral health and minimise the risk of bacteria entering your bloodstream through your mouth.

Take care of your skin

Regular handwashing will help to prevent bacteria spreading. It's also very important to wash any cuts or grazes carefully as soon as you notice them to prevent them becoming infected. Contact your GP for advice if you develop the symptoms of a skin infection. Your GP may prescribe antibiotics as a precaution.

Symptoms of a skin infection include:

  • swelling and redness of the affected area of area, but redness can be harder to see on brown and black skin
  • the skin feeling sore and warm to touch
  • a discharge of pus or fluid from the affected area of skin

A skin infection may also make you feel generally unwell, leading to symptoms such as:

  • a high temperature
  • feeling sick
  • shivering
  • chills

Also, avoid any cosmetic procedure that involves breaking the skin, such as body piercing and tattooing.

The role of antibiotics

Research has found that the benefits of antibiotics in preventing endocarditis are outweighed by the risk they'll cause serious side effects. Antibiotics should only be used when absolutely necessary. Each time antibiotics are used, the chances that bacteria will become resistant to them are increased.

Antibiotics will only be prescribed as a precautionary measure if a medical procedure is taking place at a site in your body where there's a suspected infection, such as your:

  • gullet, stomach or intestines
  • reproductive or urinary system

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