All about Meningitis

 
Contributed by : Ravina Sewani   
All about Meningitis

Here are Meningitis Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Risk factors, Complications, and Prevention.

Meningitis is a rare infection affecting the membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord - called meninges. There are several causes of this disease, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.


Symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Numbness on face
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stiff neck
  • Upset stomach or vomiting


Causes:

  • Meningitis is usually caused by a bacterial, viral, or a fungal infection. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening whereas viral meningitis is less severe and people with viral meningitis usually recover without any treatment. Fungal meningitis, on the other hand, is very rare and happens only in people whose immune system has been weakened.
  • Meningitis is almost always caused by a bacterial or viral infection that begins somewhere else in the body, like ears, sinuses, or throat.

Less common causes of meningitis include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cancer medications
  • Syphilis
  • Tuberculosis


Bacterial Meningitis:

It is an extremely serious illness. Your child will need immediate medical attention. It can be life-threatening or lead to brain damage if no quick treatment is offered. Bacterial meningitis spreads when infected people cough or sneeze. Hence being around an infected person, poses a risk for your child as well.

Viral Meningitis:

Viral meningitis is more common than the bacterial form and is usually less serious.

Fungal Meningitis:

Fungal meningitis is very rare than the bacterial or viral forms. Healthy people rarely get it. Someone with a problem like AIDS, for example is more likely to become infected with this form of meningitis.


Diagnosis:

Your child’s doctor will ask for your child’s medical history. The doctor will check for neck stiffness and look for a skin rash that might suggest a bacterial infection. The doctor will also direct you for following tests:

  • Blood tests to find bacteria
  • CT or MRI scans of your head to find swelling or inflammation
  • Spinal tap wherein a health care worker uses a needle to take fluid from around your spinal cord. It can tell what’s causing your meningitis.


Treatment:

Your treatment will depend on the type of meningitis you have.

  • Bacterial meningitis needs immediate treatment with antibiotics. Your child’s doctor will prescribe antibiotics even before they’ve found the exact bacteria that caused your illness and then change to a drug that targets the specific bacteria they find. The doctor might also prescribe medication to deal with the inflammation your child faces.
  • Viral meningitis usually goes away on its own without treatment. The doctor might suggest your child to stay in bed, drink plenty of fluids. The doctor might sometimes prescribe medication for pain and fever.
  • For fungal meningitis, antifungal medications are prescribed by doctors.


Risk factors: Following individuals are at a high risk of getting infected with meningitis:

  • Children under 5
  • Teenagers and young adults ages 16-25
  • Adults over 55


Complications:

  • Hearing loss
  • Neurological problems
  • Vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Learning disability
  • Damage to internal organs like heart and kidneys


Prevention:

  • Regular vaccination goes a long way towards preventing meningitis. The Hib, measles, mumps, polio, and pneumococcal vaccines can protect against meningitis caused by those germs.
  • Avoiding Germs - Kids should wash their hands well and often, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom.



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