Meningitis occurs when the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain (meninges) get inflammation. When one has an infection in the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the membranes, the membranes may be infected.
A number of people with non-bacterial meningitis can recover fully and quickly, even without treatment. However, bacterial meningitis is life-threatening, and some of the patients can be left with issues like brain damage and deafness.
Most meningitis cases in the United States are caused by viruses. But other causes of meningitis include fungal, parasitic, and bacterial infections. Individuals need to seek medical care once they suspect they or someone else has meningitis. Early treatment is fundamental in preventing serious complications.
Causes of Meningitis
The most common causes of meningitis are infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Fungal infections can also cause the disease, but this is mostly in individuals with low immune systems. Other causes of meningitis, like parasites, are restricted to tropical regions.
Meningitis occurs when bacteria and viruses enter the fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain. They may enter into the fluid directly during brain surgery or may erode our skull’s small bones. Other times, they can be carried there by an individual’s blood flowing from an infection in other body parts like a lung infection. Most times, we may not understand why it happens.
The fungus that causes meningitis is known as Cryptococcus. Cryptococcus occurs in individuals with poor immune systems, for instance, people with HIV/AIDS. Other causes of meningitis include certain medications, chemical irritants, and tumors.
Bacteria that cause meningitis are carried by almost half of the population and are transmitted through kissing, coughing, and sneezing. When they enter the cerebrospinal fluid and begin multiplying, they cause inflammation and meningitis symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis causes people to become sick quickly, often within hours. Therefore, they need to seek immediate medical treatment before the disease advances. Individuals with non-bacterial meningitis usually have flu-like symptoms such as headaches and fever. The symptoms develop gradually, and they are not serious. Other symptoms of meningitis are:
- High fever above 39 degrees Celsius
- Stiff and sore neck when one moves, turns or bends it. It is as a result of the meninges inflammation.
- Severe headaches caused by extra pressure in one’s head. If kids are too young to complain about headaches, check for signs of irritability and fussiness.
- Drowsiness and in extreme situations, one can fall into a coma due to lack of sufficient oxygen in the brain. In addition, one may also experience seizures.
- Vomiting as a result of the increased pressure on the brain due to inflammation.
What’s more, meningitis can cause long-term complications like deafness, paralysis, seizures, and mental impairment that can last after treatment of the infection.
Bacterial meningitis can be treated by combining antibiotics. The physician will prescribe antibiotics depending on one’s suspected bacteria, age, and other critical factors. The medical practitioner will inject the antibiotics into a person’s vein, and they will have to get the medication for about three weeks. Individuals with meningitis, regardless of the infection’s cause, may also require supportive treatment like medications to reduce fever and intravenous fluids.
There is also a vaccine given to children that helps stop a bacteria that is a common cause of meningitis in kids, thus the vaccine is a preventive measure. Other vaccines given to children, including those against bacteria, also greatly minimize meningitis caused by those organisms.
Adults with 65 years and above receive a different type of vaccine to reduce risk of contracting meningitis caused by the bacteria. The vaccine is also recommended for individuals with poor immune systems and those that lack a spleen.
People that are in close contact with patients with meningitis caused by Meningococcus should take antibiotics as a precaution. Furthermore, doctors administer chemotherapy in the cerebrospinal fluid for the treatment of carcinomatous meningitis.
Health Disclaimer: All content and media on Zubican.com are produced for general informational purposes only. This content is not meant to be an alternative to professional advice from a doctor or other healthcare provider and shouldn’t be relied on as personal health advice. Results of any treatment or advice used from Zubican.com's content may have varying results.
It is strongly recommended to always seek the guidance of a doctor or other healthcare provider with questions regarding any health or a medical issue. Advice and treatment plans should never be disregard from a medical professional, or delay seeking it because of the content on Zubican.com.
If a medical emergency, call a doctor, travel to the closest hospital emergency department, or dial 9-1-1 immediately. Choosing to rely on any content provided by Zubican.com, is solely done at your own risk.