The word meningitis is derived from the Latin words for ‘between’ or ‘within skull’. The condition occurs when there is inflammation in the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
What are the symptoms of meningitis?
Many people will be familiar with some of the more common symptoms of meningitis, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and a general feeling of malaise. However, these are not the only signs to look out for. In fact, some patients may experience no symptoms at all.
With this in mind, it’s important to know what meningitis can look like in an adult or child. This might include:
A loss of appetite and/or appetite disturbances
Stiffness or rigidity
Other symptoms may include:
Lack of coordination
Some symptoms of meningitis may also cause confusion with other conditions such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
It is worth noting that children and babies may present with different symptoms to adults. For example, they may have seizures or lack of coordination but won’t necessarily show any signs of agitation. They may also exhibit unusual sleep patterns which could be due to a condition known as Kawasaki syndrome.
In addition, it’s important to note that symptoms often appear suddenly and without warning. As a result, if you suspect your child has been diagnosed with meningitis, it is imperative that you seek medical advice immediately.
Causes of meningitis
Meningitis is caused by infection in the lining of the brain and spinal cord. One of the most common types of infection is bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is usually caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream through the nose or the skin, or through a cut or scratch on the arm or leg.
This type of infection may also occur after surgery or dental treatment, where bacteria enter the body through a puncture wound.
Viral meningitis comes about as a result of a virus invading the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and causing inflammation within the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis can come about following contact with infected saliva, faeces, urine or semen.
Bacteria and viruses do not always lead to meningitis. Some forms of the condition are triggered by an allergy or autoimmune disorder. An allergic reaction causes swelling of the small blood vessels around the brain and spinal cord. This can lead to narrowing and leakage of blood into the CSF. It results in inflammation of the CSF and the brain and spinal cord.
Autoimmune disorders can also trigger meningitis. These are caused by antibodies attacking the immune system. This leads to inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. A viral infection is not necessary when an auto-immune disorder triggers meningitis.
How to treat meningitis
If you think you or your child has been diagnosed with meningitis, you should visit your GP straight away. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may be prescribed antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.
However, if the condition is mild, you and your doctor may decide that it is best to manage it at home. Some mild cases of meningitis may resolve themselves without any intervention.
If you do need to go to hospital, you will be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Your blood pressure and temperature will be monitored closely, while your breathing rate and pulse are assessed.
You will also receive fluids intravenously, pain relief and possibly sedatives. If you have developed complications, such as pneumonia, sepsis or neurological damage, you will be transferred to a specialist ward.
Your recovery time will depend on how severe your condition was to begin with. You should expect to spend several days in hospital recovering from the ordeal of meningitis.
Prevention of meningitis
As mentioned above, one of the most effective ways to prevent meningitis is to avoid getting sick. Therefore, we recommend that everyone takes steps to minimize their risk of contracting a form of this condition. The main methods used to do this are vaccination and hand hygiene.
Vaccination protects against certain strains of bacteria that can cause meningitis. Depending on the type of meningitis you are susceptible to, your vaccine will cover between 10 and 20 percent of the strains you are likely to encounter. Vaccines contain dead bacteria or toxins from live viruses. Once the vaccine reaches the bloodstream, your immune system starts producing antibodies that protect you from the infection.
Hand hygiene helps to reduce the number of germs that enter the body. This includes washing hands regularly and thoroughly as well as avoiding close contact with people who are ill.
It is also important to wash bedding and clothes when someone with meningitis stays overnight. For extra protection, consider using a face mask during outbreaks of meningitis.
Finally, remember that some strains of bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics. Consequently, doctors may prescribe them even though they are ineffective in treating the condition. As a result, it is vital that you take your medication exactly as directed.
Here we have told you everything that what is meningitis, how you can cure it, what are the symptoms and how to prevent yourself from this infection. Because of all these points we are telling you to read out this very carefully and you will be able to know everything regarding it. If you still did not get anything regarding it then you can check out on the internet.