WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MENINGITIS. (part one and two)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MENINGITIS
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as a headache, fever and a stiff neck.
Most cases of meningitis are caused by viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks, while others can be life-threatening and require emergent antibiotic treatment because any delay increases the risk of permanent brain damage or death. However early detection and treatment can prevent serious complications.
The bacteria can be detected in babies, toddlers, and adults. It is not restricted to only children. It can be transferred from one person to another.
Early meningitis symptoms may be similar to that of the flu (influenza). Symptoms may develop over several hours or over a few days.
Sign to watch out for in toddlers
• Sudden high fever
• Stiff neck
• A severe headache that seems different from normal
• A headache with nausea or vomiting
• Confusion or difficulty concentrating
• Sleepiness or difficulty waking
• Sensitivity to light
• No appetite or thirst
• Skin rash (sometimes, such as in meningococcal meningitis)
Signs in newborns
Newborns and infants may show these signs:
• High fever
• Constant crying
• Excessive sleepiness or irritability
• Inactivity or sluggishness
• Poor feeding
• A bulge in the soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanel)
• Stiffness in a baby’s body and neck
Infants with meningitis may be difficult to comfort, and may even cry harder when held.
TYPES OF MENINGTIES
Meningitis, as stated earlier, can be very deadly. To increase our knowledge of this deadly disease, here are the types of meningitis. Viral infections are the most common cause of it, followed by bacterial infections and, rarely, fungal infections. Because bacterial infections can be life-threatening, identifying the cause is essential.
1. Bacterial meningitis
Bacteria that enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain and spinal cord cause acute bacterial meningitis. But it can also occur when bacteria directly invade the meninges. This may be caused by an ear or sinus infection, a skull fracture, or, rarely, after some surgeries.
Several strains of bacteria can cause acute bacterial meningitis, most commonly:
• Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus). This bacterium is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in infants, young children, and adults. It more commonly causes pneumonia or ear or sinus infections. A vaccine can help prevent this infection.
• Neisseria meningitides (meningococcus). This bacterium is another leading cause of bacterial meningitis. These bacteria commonly cause an upper respiratory infection but can cause meningococcal meningitis when they enter the bloodstream. This is a highly contagious infection that affects mainly teenagers and young adults. It may cause local colleges, dormitories, boarding schools and military bases. A vaccine can help prevent infection.
• Haemophilus influenza (Haemophilus). Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) bacterium was once the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children. But new Hib vaccines have greatly reduced the number of cases of this type of meningitis.
• Listeria monocytogenes (listeria). These bacteria can be found in unpasteurized cheeses, hot dogs, and luncheon meats. Pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible. Listeria can cross the placental barrier, and infections in late pregnancy may be fatal to the baby.
2. Viral meningitis
Viral meningitis is usually mild and often clears on its own. Most cases in the United States are caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses, which are most common in late summer and early fall. Viruses such as herpes simplex virus, HIV, mumps, West Nile virus and others also can cause viral meningitis.
3. Chronic meningitis
Slow-growing organisms (such as fungi and Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that invade the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain cause chronic meningitis. Chronic meningitis develops over two weeks or more. The symptoms of chronic meningitis — headaches, fever, vomiting and mental cloudiness — are similar to those of acute meningitis.
4. Fungal meningitis
Fungal meningitis is relatively uncommon and causes chronic meningitis. It may mimic acute bacterial meningitis. Fungal meningitis isn’t contagious from person to person. Cryptococcal meningitis is a common fungal form of the disease that affects people with immune deficiencies, such as AIDS. It’s life-threatening if not treated with an antifungal medication.
Other types meningitis
Meningitis can also result from noninfectious causes, such as chemical reactions, drug allergies, some types of cancer and inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis.
TO BE CONTINUED