Health A to Z Last updated on 2021-02-26 20:52:21
World Meningitis Day: A Guide to Understand Meningitis
- Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
- 4 Min Read
April 24th is observed as World Meningitis Day to raise awareness about meningitis as a health condition, its symptoms, and prevention. This year, the theme for this observance is ‘Life after Meningitis,’ focusing on the after-effects of this condition and how to cope with them. Before we delve into the consequences of meningitis, let’s understand its core symptoms and more.
What is Meningitis?Meningitis can be defined as a condition wherein an inflammation occurs in the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. This inflammation gives rise to symptoms like fever, a stiff neck, and headache. If such symptoms are bugging you or there’s something just not feeling right about your health, you can download the mfine app and consult top neurologists on mfine and get sound advice and solutions right away.
Meningitis Symptoms to look out forSome of the early meningitis symptoms often resemble the flu, however, they may develop further over a few hours or days. These symptoms include:
- A high fever all of a sudden
- A stiff neck
- Severe headaches that don’t seem normal
- Sensitivity to light
- Nausea or vomiting alongside the headaches
- Difficulty to focus
- Loss of appetite and thirst
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty to walk
- Skin rash
- Extreme sleepiness and agitation
- High fever
- Frequent and constant cries
- Stiffness in the body and neck
- Poor feeding
- A bulge in the fontanel (soft spot on top of the baby’s head)
Meningitis Causes and Meningitis TypesViral infections are primarily the most common causes of meningitis followed by bacterial infections, and in some cases, fungal infections. Out of these, bacterial meningitis is life-threatening and thus, it is imperative to spot early symptoms and avail treatment at the earliest. Bacterial Meningitis Acute bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream and then travel to the brain and spinal cord. However, it can also be caused by bacteria that directly hit the meninges after a skull fracture, sinus or ear infection, or in some cases, a surgery. Viral Meningitis A group of viruses called ‘enteroviruses’ is commonly responsible for causing viral meningitis, which is generally mild and heals on its own. Chronic Meningitis Meningitis is said to be chronic when certain slow-growing organisms like Mycobacterium tuberculosis and fungi start taking over the fluid and membranes that surround your brain. It displays symptoms like vomiting, fever, mental haze, and headaches and develops over two weeks or more. Fungal Meningitis If not treated with antifungal medication, fungal meningitis can be life-threatening and often resembles acute bacterial meningitis. It causes chronic meningitis; however, it isn’t contagious from person to person.
Risk factors for meningitis:Age: While most cases of viral meningitis occur in kids who are younger than five years, bacterial meningitis is more common in adults below the age of 20. Skipped vaccination: People who have not completed their childhood or adult vaccination schedule are more prone to meningitis than people who have completed it. Pregnancy: Pregnant women are prone to an infection called listeriosis, which is caused by listeria bacteria. This may further cause meningitis alongside other issues like miscarriage, premature delivery, and stillbirth. Contagious infections: Such as sinusitis and upper respiratory tract infections can contribute to meningitis. Weak immune system: Conditions like alcoholism, AIDS, diabetes, alongside the intake of immunosuppressant drugs weaken the immune system and put you at a higher risk of meningitis.
Meningitis complicationsMeningitis can lead to some severe consequences with a list of health complications. The longer you stay without treatment, the greater the risks. These complications include:
- Brain damage
- Hearing loss
- Gait problems
- Memory loss
- Kidney failure
- Learning disabilities
Meningitis TreatmentImmediate medical attention is needed in the case of acute bacterial meningitis. Intravenous antibiotics and oxygenation are primarily used, and, in some cases, corticosteroids may also be used. This is mainly to minimize complications like seizures and brain swelling and also pave the way for a faster recovery. When it comes to viral meningitis, antibiotics don’t really help. In most cases, the condition improves on its own, however, some care needs to be taken:
- Take a lot of fluids
- Get plenty of bed rest
- Some over-the-counter medicines will be of good help to treat body aches and reduce the fever
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