Endocarditis is a serious infection of the heart’s endocardium (the inner lining of the heart). If left untreated, endocarditis can cause damage to, or completely destroy, the heart’s valves with life-threatening complications. Endocarditis is typically caused by a bacteria or germ that originates in another part of your body such as your mouth. This bacteria travels through the bloodstream and into the heart where it clings to damaged areas in the heart. People with preexisting heart conditions like damaged heart valves, artificial heart valves or other defects are at a greater risk for developing this infection. Some side effects of endocarditis include fever and chills, fatigue, aching joints and muscles, night sweats, a persistent cough, blood in the urine, shortness of breath and swelling of the legs, feet or abdomen. Intravenous antibiotics for two to six weeks is the first choice of treatment for this infection. Surgery may be required to treat frequent infections or to replace a damaged valve with an artificial valve.