Meningitis is an inflammation of the thin tissue called the meninges that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. Viral and bacterial meningitis are the major types of meningitis. Viral meningitis is the most common type and is so mild that the person may not even aware that they have an infection. Bacterial meningitis is comparably uncommon but can be lethal if not treated properly. Septiceamia meningitis is a severe form of bacterial meningitis that is caused once the bacteria enters into the bloodstream and starts multiplying rapidly. Meningitis is more commonly observed in older people. Sometimes, fungal infection can also lead to meningitis.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Symptoms for meningitis in infants are typical. Infants may cry constantly, eat poorly, and shows symptoms like headache and stiff neck. In young children and adults, symptoms may vary depending upon the types and age of an individual. Some common symptoms of meningitis can be:
- Severe headache and high fever.
- Vomiting and nausea.
- Difficulty in waking and falling asleep.
- Unable to concentrate.
- Poor eating.
- Seizures and stiff neck.
- Sensitivity to light and skin rashes in some cases.
Leg-pain, ice cold hands and feet and abnormal pale skin tone can also be treated as the earlier symptoms of meningitis.
Risk factors of Meningitis
Viral infection is the major cause of meningitis but it can also be caused by bacteria and fungus infections. Depending on the type of meningitis, the causes differ. Bacterial Meningitis: Bacterial meningitis is caused by the entry of bacteria into the bloodstream. These bacteria then migrate to the brain and the spinal cord. Ear or sinus infection or a skull fracture can also lead to bacterial infection. There are number of strains of bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis. Some of them are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in infants and young children.
- Neisseria meningitidis causes meningitis when bacteria from an upper respiratory infection enter into the bloodstream.
- Listeria monocytogenes found in sand, dust and contaminated food can also lead to bacterial meningitis.
Viral meningitis: A group of viruses known as enteroviruses that causes stomach flu is the foremost cause of viral meningitis. Virus associated to mumps, herpes infection and other diseases can also cause viral meningitis. Fungal Meningitis: Fungal meningitis is usually observed in people with immune deficiencies such as AIDS.
Treatment of Meningitis
Treatments for the meningitis depend on the cause of the disease. Since bacterial meningitis is severe, immediate treatments are given to the person. Doctors may recommend antibiotic or combination of antibiotic depending on the type of bacteria causing infection. Sometimes, treatments for brain swelling, shock, convulsion or dehydration can also be recommended by the doctors to avoid any complications. Fluid that has been accumulated between the brain and the membranes is drained or surgically removed. Viral meningitis can be cured just by taking complete bed rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter pain medications.
Prevantion of Meningitis
Meningitis is a contagious disease and can be transmitted from infected person to healthy individual. Care must be taken as it easily spreads through coughing, sneezing, kissing and sharing utensils. One must wash their hands carefully to avoid exposure to infectious agents. Meningitis can be prevented by maintaining the immune system through exercising regularly, maintaining healthy diet and taking enough rest. Bacterial meningitis can be prevented by taking vaccination such as Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccine, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7), Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), and Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV).