Meningitis - Symptoms & Treatment
Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges caused by bacteria or viral infections elsewhere in the body that have spread into the blood and into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In the past most meningitis cases occurred in children younger than 5 years. Other causes of meningitis such as fungal, protozoal, or certain non-infectious etiologies are much rarer. Many of the bacteria or viruses that can cause meningitis are fairly common and are more often associated with other everyday illnesses. From there the microorganisms can enter the bloodstream, travel through the body, and enter the central nervous system. Bacteria may also enter the central nervous system after severe head trauma or head surgery. It often remains undiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to those of the common flu. The mumps virus was once a common cause of viral meningitis, but it is now rare due to the routine use of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The severity of the inflammation and the best treatment depend on the cause of the infection. Bacterial meningitis is generally much more serious than viral meningitis, and timely treatment is necessary. Left untreated, bacterial meningitis can be fatal. If you suspect that you or someone in your family has signs or symptoms of meningitis, seek medical care right away. There's no way to tell what kind of meningitis you have without seeing your doctor and undergoing testing.
Meningitis is an infection of the covering layers of the brain (meninges). Meningitis should be distinguished from the condition encephalitis which is the inflammation of the brain itself. The infection can start anywhere, including in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, or urinary system, but the most common source is the respiratory tract. Many different types of bacteria can cause meningitis: Group B Streptococcus , Escherichia coli , and Listeria monocytogenes are the most common causes of meningitis in newborns. Before the 1990s, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was the leading cause of meningitis in children in the United States. Typical signs and symptoms of meningitis include fever , headache , stiff neck , photophobia , or vomiting . People with less competent immune systems, such as the very young or those whose immune systems have been compromised by disease, are more at risk for all types of meningitis. The complications of bacterial meningitis can be severe and include neurological problems such as hearing loss, visual impairment, seizures, and learning disabilities. The heart, kidneys, and adrenal glands may also be affected. Although some children develop long-lasting neurological problems from bacterial meningitis, most who receive prompt diagnosis and treatment recover fully.
Causes of Meningitis
The common Causes of Meningitis :
- It is caused by a bacterial infection.
- Meningitis caused by non infectious agents are called sterile meningitis because no microorganism is isolated in the spinal fluid.
- Meningitis may be caused by many different viruses and bacteria, or by diseases that cause inflammation of tissues of the body without infection.
- Neisseria meningitidis .
- Haemophilus influenza .
- Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Some Symptoms of Meningitis :
- Sensitivity to light
- Lack of interest in drinking and eating
- Fever and chills
- Stiff neck (meningismus)
- Severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleepiness or difficulty waking up
- Skin rash in some cases, such as in viral or meningococcal meningitis
Treatment of Meningitis
- Children who are very ill may need to stay in the hospital.
- Bacterial meningitis needs to be treated right away.
- People who were in contact with an infected child should see a doctor, too. They could be infected.
- The doctor may take a "spinal tap." It takes a sample of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
- It can be treated with antibiotics.
- Take your child to the doctor immediately if she has symptoms.
- The test can usually tell the doctor if the meningitis is caused by a virus or bacteria.