Meningitis: Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering of the brain and spinal cord known as meninges. This inflammation is caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses but may be a result of injury, cancer, or certain drugs.
It is paramount to know that specific cause of meningitis because treatment differs depending on the cause.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Meningitis symptoms develop suddenly and can include:
- High temperature (pyrexia) over 37.5C (99.5F)
- Being sick
- A blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when glass rolled over it (this won’t always develop)
- Stiff neck
- Dislike of effulgent(bright) lights
- Seizures (fits)
- Lethargy or unresponsiveness(drowsiness)
These symptoms may appear in any order and some may not appear.
Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
Viral meningitis is the most common and least serious. Bacterial meningitis is rare but can be very severe if not treated.
Different types of viruses and bacteria can cause meningitis, including:
- Meningococcal bacteria – there are several variants, known as A, B, C, W, X, Y, and Z
- Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) bacteria
- Pneumococcal bacteria
- Enteroviruses – viruses that conventionally only cause a mild stomach infection
- Mumps virus
- Herpes simplex virus – a virus that conventionally causes cold sores or genital herpes
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Diagnosis of Meningitis
Several tests may be carried out to viral or bacterial infection.
These tests may include:
Physical examination for symptoms of meningitis
- Blood test to detect bacteria or viruses
- Lumbar puncture – a sample of fluid is taken from the spine and checked for bacteria or viruses
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan to check any problems with the brain, such as swelling
Bacterial meningitis can be very severe, treatment with antibiotics will customarily start before the diagnosis. It is confirmed and will be ceased later on if tests show the condition is caused by a virus.
Treatment of Meningitis
Hospital treatment is recommended in all cases of bacterial meningitis, as the condition can cause severe problems and requires close monitoring.
Severe viral meningitis may require treated in hospital.
Antibiotics are given directly into a vein.
Fluids are given directly into a vein for preventing dehydration
Oxygen through a face mask if any breathing difficulties
Steroid medication help reduce any swelling around the brain, in some cases
Meningitis treatment may need to stay in the hospital for a few days, and in some cases, treatment may be needed for several weeks.
Additional treatment and long-term support may require if any complications occur, such as hearing loss.
Take painkillers for a headache or general aches
Take anti-emetic medication for any vomiting
How it Spreads
The bacteria are spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions during close (kissing or coughing ) or lengthy contact.
Close contact with a person who has viral meningitis, you may become infected with a virus that made the person sick. However, you are probably not liable to develop meningitis from the illness. That’s because only a diminutive(small) number of people who get infected with a virus that causes meningitis will actually develop meningitis.
Vaccinations against meningitis
- Meningitis B vaccine – offered to babies at 8, 16 weeks, and the booster at 1 year
- 5-in-1 vaccine – offered to babies at 8 weeks, followed by a second dose at 12 weeks and 16 weeks of age
- Meningitis C vaccine – offered at age of 12 weeks, 1 year, and teenagers and first-time university students
- Pneumococcal vaccine – offered at age of 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year
- Meningitis ACWY vaccine – offered teenagers, and “fresher” students going to university for the first time
- MMR vaccine – offered at 1 year of age and second dose at 3 years and 4 months