Endocarditis may develop slowly or suddenly — depending on what's causing the infection and whether you have any underlying heart problems. The infection can infect different people differently, so signs and symptoms vary. They may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • A new or changed heart murmur — abnormal heart sounds made by blood rushing through your heart
  • Fatigue
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Paleness
  • Persistent cough
  • Swelling in your feet, legs or abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood in your urine (either visible or found in a doctor's viewing of your urine under a microscope)
  • Tenderness in your spleen — an infection-fighting abdominal organ on your left side, just below your rib cage
  • Osler's nodes — red, tender spots under the skin of your fingers
  • Petechiae (puh-TEE-key-e) — tiny purple or red spots on the skin, whites of your eyes or inside your mouth

When to see a doctor

If you develop signs or symptoms of endocarditis, see your doctor right away — especially if you have risk factors for this serious infection, such as a heart defect or a previous case of endocarditis.

Although less serious conditions can cause similar signs and symptoms, you won't know for sure until you're evaluated.

Aug. 11, 2011