Everything You Need To Know About Meningitis
Ratul, a youngster of 23, was suffering from persistent fever and headaches. He even complained about stiffness in the neck to his parents. When the fever did not subside after a couple of days, his parents took him to the hospital to meet the family doctor. He ultimately diagnosed it as meningitis. What exactly is meningitis? It is an infection affecting the meninges.
There are many signs of meningitis including the ones Ratul was suffering from. With quick treatment, people can recover swiftly from this ailment. There are vaccines available to help combat the recurrence of the disease as well. There are several types of meningitis as well, including viral and bacterial meningitis.
Learning More About Meningitis
Meningitis is an infection impacting the meninges which are the protective lining of the spinal cord and brain. There are three types of this ailment, leading to meningitis symptoms in adults such as headaches, fever and stiffness in the neck. Meningitis may turn serious if not treated properly.
Types of Meningitis
Before you go into the meningitis symptoms and causes, here are the types that you must know more about.
There could also be a classification of the condition into chronic and acute meningitis, depending on the development and severity of symptoms. Meningitis has similar causes as encephalitis which affects the brain.
Causes & Symptoms of Meningitis
Some of the symptoms include Meningitis headaches, fever and stiffness of the neck. Here are some other pointers worth keeping in mind:
- Bacterial meningitis happens when bacteria gets into the bloodstream and travels to the meninges, leading to infections. Meningitis may also take place due to an infection or injury to the head. Symptoms include headaches, fever and stiffness as mentioned, while children may also witness seizures, irritability, vomiting, swelling in the head, drowsiness and confusion.
- Viral meningitis happens due to virus groups like non-polio enteroviruses or others like the herpesvirus, arbovirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, influenza, measles, mumps and so on. Symptoms include headache, appetite, light sensitivity, irritability, weakness, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness.
- Chronic meningitis impacts those with weaker immunity and also those suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other conditions. Symptoms include numbness of the face, headache, fever, paralysis and confusion.
Testing and Diagnosis
The doctor will determine the exact type of meningitis. It may be done via a spinal tap for spinal fluid analysis. Tests may be required for analyzing urine, blood and mucus from the throat and nose.
Diagnosis of Bacterial Meningitis:
- Red or purple rashes on the skin.
- Stiffness of the neck.
- Knee and hip flexion.
Diagnosis of Viral Meningitis:
- Throat and nose swab.
- Spinal tap.
- CT scan.
- MRI scan.
- Stool sample.
Diagnosis of Chronic Meningitis:
- MRI scan.
- Spinal tap.
- CT scan.
Treating and Managing Meningitis
Bacterial Meningitis Treatment– Antibiotics are required and treatment may begin well in advance. Intravenous antibiotics may be prescribed with corticosteroid for lowering inflammation levels. You will also require fluid replenishment due to vomiting, sweating, appetite losses and diarrhea.
Viral Meningitis Treatment– Antiviral medication may be recommended in this case. Things may start improving within 7-10 days in some cases.
Chronic Meningitis Treatment– This treatment method is mostly dependent upon whether the type is non-infectious or infectious. The former may require prednisone while viral or fungal meningitis may require specific medication as well.
How to Prevent Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis has its own vaccine while the CDC mandates it for teenagers at 16 years and pre-teenagers at 11-12 years. Extra vaccines are often required for first-year college students, army recruits, scientists working with specific bacteria and so on. For combating viral meningitis, you should keep washing your hands frequently while avoiding close interactions with people who are already sick. You should remain home while sick without going anywhere. You should also get vaccinated in a timely manner for safeguarding against diseases leading to viral meningitis.
The Bottom Line
As you can see in a nutshell, meningitis requires swift treatment, especially of the bacterial variety. Those getting treatment promptly may also recover aster. The healthcare provider or doctor will keep tracking your condition for monitoring health issues in the long haul including hearing/vision problems, epilepsy, balance and movement, concentration and memory and so on. Meningitis in rare scenarios may lead to blood-related infections. Owing to the same, overall blood supply is lowered to the hands, fingers, feet and toes by the body, leading to major issues.
Can one cure bacterial meningitis?
Yes most individuals seem to make a full recovery from bacterial meningitis, especially if they are quickly diagnosed and treated. The disease may turn fatal if left unattended or neglected.
Is bacterial meningitis life-threatening?
Yes, bacterial meningitis may be fatal or potentially life-threatening if it is neglected or not treated over a period of time. Symptoms usually start developing within a period of 24 hours.
Are there complications linked to bacterial meningitis?
There are some complications and risks including the risks of septicemia which is potentially fatal poisoning of the blood and even paralysis. Some other complications/risks include seizures and mental impairment alike.
What is the recovery outlook for viral meningitis?
Those suffering from viral meningitis usually start recovering without needing any particular treatment. Viral meningitis does not usually lead to complications in the long-term. In most cases, treatments are usually of a milder nature.
What are the queries to ask your doctor when checking for meningitis?
Ask about the type of meningitis after diagnosis along with the type of treatment that is required. Also enquire about the chances of recurrence and long-term complications/issues that may arise. You should also enquire how you can stop the spread to your family members and friends.