Infective endocarditis (IE) is caused by bacteria that gets into the bloodstream and causes an infection in the lining of the heart, a valve of the heart, or one of the heart’s blood vessels. It isn’t a terribly common condition, but if your aging relative has a heart condition, they may have a higher chance of getting IE than other people do.
Risk Factors for IE
IE happens when bacteria enters the bloodstream, but how does it get there?
It can get into the blood in a number of ways, including:
Oral Activities: Things like brushing teeth or other things that can make the gums bleed creates a place for bacteria to get in. This is especially true if the older adult’s gums aren’t healthy. Some dental procedures in which the gums are cut can also cause the condition.
Infections: An infected sore, gum disease, or inflammatory bowel disease can allow bacteria to get into the blood.
Catheters: Catheters create an entry point for bacteria, especially if the catheter is in for a while.
While it is possible for a senior with a healthy heart to get IE, the condition is more common in people who already have heart problems.
Some conditions that increase the risk for IE are:
- Artificial heart valves.
- Some kinds of congenital heart defects.
- Having had endocarditis before.
- Damage or scarring in a heart valve.
Symptoms of IE
The kinds of symptoms and how suddenly they show up depends on the kind of bacteria causing the infection and whether the person has other heart conditions.
Some of the common symptoms of IE are:
- Symptoms that resemble the flu, like chills and fever.
- A heart murmur that is new or an existing one that has changed.
- Aching joints and muscles.
- Night sweats.
- Feeling short of breath.
- Pain in the chest when breathing.
- Swollen feet, abdomen, or legs.
Some other symptoms that may occur, but that are rarer, are:
- Weight loss for no apparent reason.
- Blood in the urine.
- A tender feeling around the spleen, which is located on the upper left side of the abdomen.
- Red spots on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands.
- Red spots under the skin of the fingers or toes that feel tender.
- Tiny purple spots on the skin or whites of the eyes.
If your aging relative has IE, an elderly care provider can help to take care of them while they recover. Endocarditis is often treated with IV antibiotics. Once the senior is released from the hospital, they may have to go to their doctor’s office to continue receiving the antibiotics.
An elderly care provider can drive the older adult to the office and sit with them during their treatment. In some cases, surgery will be needed to repair damage to heart valves. If that is the case, an elderly care provider can assist with post-surgery care when the older adult returns home. They can keep an eye on the senior’s surgical incision to make certain it doesn’t become infected. An elderly care provider can also allow the senior to rest while they take care of the housework and prepare meals.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care Services in East Berlin PA, please talk to us. Our friendly staff can answer all of your questions. In-home Senior Care in Adams and York Counties, PA. Call Today: (717) 698-8258.