Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining (meninges) around the brain and spinal. Meninges are the three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord.
In mammals, they are the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater.
Cerebrospinal fluid is located in the subarachnoid space between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater. The primary function of the meninges is to protect the central nervous system.
It affects all genders and ages and can spread easily among those living in close habitations.
If dealt with quickly, meningitis can be treated successfully. So it’s important to get routine vaccinations, know the first sign of meningitis, and get the right medical attention.
The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.
This disorder could be viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infection. There are non-infectious causes of meningitis such as chemical reactions.
Types of meningitis
Below are the different kinds of meningitis
As the name implies it occurs because of a group of pathogenic viruses called enteroviruses. It can also be referred as aseptic meningitis. Its occurrence is easier compared to bacterial meningitis but not usually life threatening.
These enteroviruses could be mumps, herpes simplex virus and others in that category.
In this case, bacteria may enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain and spinal cord where they irritate the meninges thereby causing acute bacterial meningitis.
Nevertheless, it can also occur when bacteria directly invade the meninges. An ear, sinus infection, or a skull injury may cause this. It is usually rare but life threatening. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious type of meningitis. It can lead to death or permanent disability. It mostly regarded as a medical emergency.
It affects the meninges, the membranes that protects central nervous system (CNS), together with the cerebrospinal fluid.
In 2006, the mortality rate for bacterial meningitis was 34 percent, and 50 percent of patients experienced long-term effects after recovery.
Below are some of the strains of bacteria that can cause acute bacterial meningitis
- Haemophilus influenzae (haemophilus).Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacterium was once the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children.
- Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).This bacterium is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in infants, young children and adults in the United States. It more commonly causes pneumonia or ear or sinus infections. A vaccine can help prevent this infection.
- Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus).This bacterium is another leading cause of bacterial meningitis. These bacteria commonly cause an upper respiratory infection but can cause meningococcal meningitis when they enter the bloodstream. This is a highly contagious infection that affects mainly teenagers and young adults.
Fungal meningitis is relatively uncommon and causes chronic meningitis. It may mimic acute bacterial meningitis. Fungal meningitis isn’t contagious from person to person. Cryptococcal meningitis is a common fungal form of the disease that affects people with immune deficiencies, such as AIDS. It’s life-threatening if not treated with an antifungal medication.
What is the first sign of meningitis?
The first sign of meningitis can be any of the general signs of the disorder depending on different factors like age, immunity and cause of the disease.
General signs and symptoms of meningitis
Viral meningitis symptoms
Viral meningitis in infants may include:
- decreased appetite
In adults, viral meningitis may cause:
- stiff neck
- sensitivity to bright light
- nausea and vomiting
Bacterial meningitis symptoms
Bacterial meningitis symptoms develop suddenly. They may include:
- ·Meningitis rash
- altered mental status
- sensitivity to light
- stiff neck
- purple areas of skin that resemble bruises
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms. Bacterial and viral meningitis can be deadly.
There is no way to know if you have bacterial or viral meningitis just by judging how you feel. Your doctor will need to perform tests to determine which type you have.
Fungal meningitis symptoms
Symptoms of fungal meningitis resemble the other types of this infection. These may include:
- sensitivity to light
- confusion or disorientation
Is meningitis a contagious?
Several types of meningitis are not contagious. Fungal, parasitic and non-infectious meningitis are not contagious.
Viral meningitis is contagious. It’s spread through direct contact with body fluids, including mucus, feces, and saliva.
Droplets of infected fluid can be spread and shared with sneezing and coughing. You do not have to come into direct contact with an infected person to pick up this infection.
Bacterial meningitis, the most serious form of meningitis, can also be contagious, especially if it’s meningococcal meningitis.
It’s spread through extended contact with an infected person. Schools, daycare centers, military barracks, hospitals, and college dormitories are prime locations for sharing this infection.
How is meningitis diagnosed?
Diagnosing meningitis starts with a health history and physical exam. During the physical exam, your doctor will look for:
- a fever
- an increased heart rate
- neck stiffness
- reduced consciousness
Your doctor will also order a lumbar puncture. This test is also called a spinal tap.
It allows your doctor to look for increased pressure in the central nervous system. It can also find inflammation or bacteria in the spinal fluid. This test can also determine the best antibiotic for treatment.
Other tests may also be ordered to diagnose meningitis. Common tests include the following:
- Blood cultures identify bacteria in the blood. Bacteria can travel from the blood to the brain. N. meningitidis and S. pneumonia, among others, can cause both sepsis and meningitis.
- A complete blood count with differential is a general index of health. It checks the number of red and white blood cells in your blood. White blood cells fight infection. The count is usually elevated in meningitis.
- Chest X-rays can reveal the presence of pneumonia, tuberculosis, or fungal infections. Meningitis can occur after pneumonia.
- A CT scan of the head may show problems like a brain abscess or sinusitis. Bacteria can spread from the sinuses to the meninges.
Is meningitis preventable?
These steps can help prevent meningitis:
- Wash your hands.Careful hand-washing helps prevent the spread of germs.
- Practice good hygiene.Don’t share drinks, foods, straws, eating utensils, lip balms or toothbrushes with anyone else. Teach children and teens to avoid sharing these items too.
- Stay healthy.Maintain your immune system by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Consider being vaccinated
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