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If you have an increased risk of developing endocarditis, it is important that you limit your exposure to any infection that could trigger it.

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've previously been affected by endocarditis, as the condition can often reoccur 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.

Don't let abscesses and gum disease go untreated.

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

Read more about dental health.

Take care of your skin

Regularly washing your skin with an antibacterial soap will help to lower your risk of developing a skin infection. 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 (see below). Your GP may prescribe antibiotics as a precaution. Symptoms of a skin infection include:

  • redness and inflammation (swelling) of the affected area of skin
  • the skin feels tender and warm to the 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 (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • feeling sick
  • shivering
  • chills

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

Read more about skin care.

The role of antibiotics

Research has found that the benefits of antibiotics in preventing endocarditis are outweighed by the risks that 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.

Read more about antibiotic resistance.

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

An abscess is a lump containing pus, which is made by the body during infection.
Antibiotics are medicines that can be used to treat infections caused by micro-organisms, usually bacteria or fungi. For example amoxicillin, streptomycin and erythromycin.
Antiseptic is a substance that reduces the growth and development of germs.
Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that live in the body. Some can cause illness and disease and some others are good for you.
The bladder is a small organ near the pelvis that holds urine until it is ready to be passed from the body.
Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Heart valve
Heart valves are four sets of flaps that control the direction that blood pumps around the heart.
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