Meningitis is a disease that involves the inflammation or irritation of the meninges. Human central nervous system consists of brain and spinal cord, which is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid acts as a cushion to protect the central nervous system. There are membranes in the central nervous system known as meninges, which provide protection to the brain and spinal cord. When the meninges swell or gets inflamed the person suffers from meningitis. When these membranes are infected by bacterial or viral infection, the body finds it hard to fight off the infection because of the absence of white blood cells in the cerebral spinal fluid. Meningitis is a serious infection and can be transmittable. There are, sometimes, outbreaks of this disease but many people recover after they suffer from this serious illness, without any permanent damage. This disease can have an everlasting effect on a person’s ability to think and learn. It can also result in hearing loss. Most cases of meningitis are caused by viruses or bacteria, but it can also be caused by fungi or other microorganisms. Sometimes, a head injury, certain types of cancer or other illnesses, or reactions to medications can also cause meningitis. Read the article below to enlighten yourself about this serious illness, and provide help or assistance to those near and dear ones who suffer from meningitis.
Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment Of Meningitis
Causes Of Meningitis
Germs are present everywhere, living inside and outside the body. In fact, some of the germs are useful to the body, especially, those present in the intestines. However, there are some germs that can cause a life-threatening situation. Body has a mechanism to fight infections, by producing white blood cells in the immune system. These cells are absent in the central nervous system. Hence, any infection to the membranes surrounding the central nervous system causes meningitis.
Symptoms Of Meningitis
- Severe headaches
- Drowsiness and sleepiness
- Difficulty in waking up
- Vomiting and nausea
- Stiff neck and rashes
- Light sensitivity
- Lack of hunger and thirst
Children show some of these symptoms when they develop meningitis
- Constant crying
- Refuse to eat
- Body and neck stiffness
- Feeling of extreme tiredness
- If you observe symptoms of meningitis, immediately consult a doctor.
- The medical expert will perform a spinal tap or lumbar puncture, to extract the spinal fluid from the spinal cord.
- Tests in the labs will determine whether the meninges are infected.
- Bacterial meningitis can be usually treated with antibiotics that are introduced into the body intravenously.
- Viral meningitis is left to let the illness run its normal course, as antibiotics do not work on viruses. Nearly everyone who suffers from viral meningitis recovers completely.
- If you have taken all your vaccinations then it can protect you from meningitis.
- Keeping your personal hygiene, like washing hands, with soap water, especially, before and after food, after using bathroom, and whenever you come in contact with dirt goes a long way in preventing this disease.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing. Wash your hands afterwards.
Who Are At Risks
- Children up to five years of age
- Young adults between 17 to 25 years of age, those living in close quarters.
- Adults who are over the age of 55
- People with weak immune systems
- People who work with animals. Bacteria like Listeria present in the animals can be transmitted in humans causing meningitis.
Forms Of Meningitis
- There are mainly two forms of meningitis, bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis.
- Bacterial meningitis affects fewer people but has serious health results. Bacterial meningitis is fatal in one in ten cases, and leaves one in seven survivors with a severe disability caused by brain injury.
- Viral meningitis is more common than the bacterial form, and in most cases is not as dangerous as bacterial meningitis. Most people who are exposed to viral meningitis show mild or no symptoms, and recover fully without any complications.
- This disease can be caused through many ways, like coughing, sneezing, poor hygiene, polluted water, mumps or chicken pox, and mosquito borne viruses.