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February 5, 2024

Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The enlargement is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection in the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. 

Injuries, tumors, some medicines, and other types of infections can all cause meningitis. It is critical to understand the particular etiology of meningitis because treatment varies according to the reason.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Early meningitis symptoms may be similar to the flu. Symptoms may appear over a few hours or days. Possible symptoms for anyone above the age of two years include:

·      A sudden high fever

·      A severe headache

·      Stiff neck

·      Nausea or vomiting

·      Seizures

·      Confusion or difficulty concentrating

·      Sleepiness or difficulty awakening

·      There’s no appetite or thirst

·      Sensitivity to light

·      Skin rash 

What causes meningitis?

Meningitis typically arises from an infection, either bacterial or viral. It originates in another part of your body, such as the throat, ears, or sinuses.

1.  Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial infections are a leading cause of meningitis, with various bacteria implicated. Common bacteria include:

·      Neisseria meningitidis

·      Streptococcus pneumoniae

·      Haemophilus influenza 

Bacterial meningitis is typically more severe than viral meningitis.  Thus, requiring urgent medical attention.

2.  Viral Meningitis:

Viral infections are the predominant cause of viral meningitis. These are:

·      enteroviruses 

·      herpes simplex virus

Viral meningitis is serious, but less severe than bacterial meningitis. It often resolves on its own with supportive care.

3.  Fungal Meningitis

Fungal meningitis is rare. However, it can occur, particularly in individuals with compromised immune systems. Cryptococcus neoformans is an example of a fungus that can cause meningitis.

Meningitis Complications

Meningitis can result in serious problems in both adults and children, especially if treatment is delayed. Potential complications include:

·      Seizures

·      Loss of hearing

·      Brain injury or stroke

·      Memory difficulties

·      Having difficulty walking or even paralysis

·      Challenges with learning

·      Kidney failure

·      Death

·      Shock

Treatment Options for Meningitis

The treatment depends on the underlying cause:

1.  Bacterial Meningitis

Requires urgent hospitalization and administration of IV antibiotics. Prompt treatment is crucial to prevent serious complications such as brain damage or death.

2.  Viral Meningitis

Often resolves on its own with supportive care. This includes:

·       Rest

·       Hydration

·       OTC pain relievers

 Antiviral medications may be prescribed in specific cases.

3.  Fungal Meningitis

Requires antifungal medications. This may necessitate prolonged treatment, especially in individuals with compromised immune systems.

Meningitis Prevention

1.  Vaccination

Vaccines are available to protect against certain types of bacteria and viruses that can cause meningitis. Immunization is a crucial preventive measure, especially for infants, adolescents, and individuals with specific risk factors.

2.  Good Hygiene Practices

Practicing regular handwashing and maintaining good personal hygiene can reduce the risk of viral and bacterial infections that may lead to meningitis.

3.  Avoiding Close Contact

Avoiding close contact with those who are sick, especially during outbreaks. This helps prevent the spread of infectious agents.

4.  Prompt Treatment of Infections

Timely and appropriate treatment of respiratory or other infections reduces the risk of secondary bacterial meningitis.

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