1.What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is a rare infection that leads to inflammation of the meninges. This inflammation is caused when the fluid around the meninges gets infected. These meninges are delicate membranes and cover the spinal cord and the brain. Anyone can catch this infection and can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or a virus. Fungal meningitis is very rare and affects people with low immunity. Viral meningitis is curable with proper treatment as it is a milder form of the disease. Bacterial meningitis is the most life-threatening form and can even affect people who are in contact with the patient.
When the meningitis is in the early stages, the symptoms are similar to that of the flu. Depending on the type of meningitis contracted, it can be deadly if not treated early. Hence anyone having symptoms especially children should see a pediatrician or a meningitis doctor immediately. The typical symptoms of meningitis are:
- Stiff neck in both adults and children
- High fever but sometimes maybe a low-grade fever too
- Photophobia with pain when exposed to light.
Some of the meningitis symptoms appear all of a sudden and include vomiting, nausea, feeling confused, sleepy, or finding it difficult to wake up.
Compared to adults, children show less specific symptoms like not getting enough food, feeling tired or irritable and includes fever.
2.Who is at Risk?
Meningitis risk factors are:
- Those who have a compromised immune system or have an immune deficiency are at a higher risk of infections including meningitis. People who have HIV/AIDS and autoimmune disorders are more vulnerable and so are people who are taking chemotherapy and have undergone organ transplants.
- People living in small spaces like dorms, boarding schools, daycare centers, etc have an increased chance of this infection.
- Children under the age of 5 have increased chances of meningitis though people of any age can get it.
- Pregnant women have a risk of listeria bacteria.
- People who work with animals
The most common causes of meningitis are viruses or bacteria and start by infecting the throat, sinus, or the ear.
- Bacterial meningitis: Several types of bacteria cause this condition, the common are pneumococcus, meningococcus, and listeria. Haemophilus influenza is a bacteria that commonly cause meningitis in children. These bacteria are spread by cough or sneeze. It is life-threatening.
- Viral meningitis: Many viruses can cause it and even the ones that cause diarrhea. It is less severe.
- Fungal meningitis: People who have an immune deficiency as in AIDS can get infected with this.
Other causes include people who are suffering from tuberculosis, syphilis, and autoimmune disorders.
3.How Is Meningitis Diagnosed?
The doctor starts the Meningitis diagnosis by finding out about the medical history followed by a physical exam:
- The doctor will check for fever, stiffness of the neck, increased heart rate, etc.
- A lumbar puncture also called the spinal tap will be conducted. A needle is used to collect fluid from the spinal cord. This helps the doctor to determine if there is inflammation in the spinal fluid and determining if there is normal pressure in the central nervous system.
- The other Meningitis test includes blood cultures, CBC to test for the presence of bacteria and its type.
- Chest X-rays and CT scans to know if there is swelling or inflammation
- Glass test is done on the rash to check the cause.
4.How is Meningitis treated?
The Meningitis treatment options depend on the type of meningitis the person is infected with:
- Bacterial meningitis will have to be treated immediately. Medicine for meningitis includes antibiotics which may be general, specific, or a broad-spectrum one. The doctor may also give a corticosteroid for swelling.
- Viral meningitis can be treated with antiviral medicines and most of the cases the infection goes away without treatment.
- Fungal meningitis is treated with antifungal medicines.
Treating meningitis is usually done by specialists. Pediatricians, neurologists, and specialists in infectious diseases form part of the team of doctors in more severe cases. Contact our meningitis specialists at Cure.fit to get the most effective meningitis cure irrespective of the cause of infection. These experienced doctors are available through online consultations too.
5.How can Meningitis be Prevented?
One of the Meningitis prevention tactics is to practice proper personal hygiene.
- Some types of meningitis spread through nasal secretions while sneezing or through saliva and hence avoid sharing personal items and food.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick as it spreads through contact
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking and get enough rest
- Eat healthy food which includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Get vaccinated as vaccines can prevent meningitis
- If you are caretaker get yourself preventive antibiotics
- Wash your hands as it prevents the spread of germs.
- Pregnant women would be careful about the food intake
- Cover your mouth when you are sneezing or coughing