Understanding Meningitis

Inflammation of the membrane or any other organs can be quite painful and dangerous for human health. However, when the inflamed area is the protective membrane covering the brain and spinal cord, the pain and danger can become quite severe for those suffering from meningitis.

Signs and Symptoms

Meningitis can appear different in adults and newborn babies, but it deserves the same level of care, treatment, and urgency.

More than often, it can go away by itself in a few weeks. However, some severe cases require emergency antibiotic treatment. Here are a few signs and symptoms to identify whether or not you are suffering from this disease:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Severe headache that seems different than normal
  • A Headache with nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness or trouble waking up
  • Sensitivity to light
  • No appetite/thirst
  • Skin rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever with cold hands and feet

If you have a newborn baby or a child younger than 2 years of age, you might have to look for a different set of symptoms. Here are some signs of meningitis in children:

  • High fever
  • Constant crying
  • Excessive sleepiness or irritability
  • Inactivity or sluggishness
  • Poor feeding
  • A bulge in the soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanel)
  • Stiffness in a baby’s body and neck

If you have a nearby urgent care clinic, you can just walk in, consult a physician and get checked for meningitis.

Different Types

Meningitis is most commonly caused by viral infections. However, there are several different types.

Bacterial:

Bacteria can enter the bloodstream and infect the brain and spinal cord. This can be caused by an ear or sinus infection, a skull fracture, or, rarely, after some surgeries. There are four main types of bacterial meningitis:

  • Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus)
  • Neisseria meningitides (meningococcus)
  • Haemophilus influenza (haemophilus)
  • Listeria monocytogenes (listeria)

Viral:

Caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses, viral meningitis can cure on its own in a few weeks. It happens in late summer and early fall and usually very mild. Walk into any urgent care clinic, and find out more about the different types of meningitis.

Fungal:

While this is very rare, it can still happen. It can mimic acute bacterial meningitis, but it is never contagious, and can never transfer from one person to another. It mostly affects people with AIDS and other immune deficiencies. If not treated in time, it can cause life-threatening consequences.

Miscellaneous Causes:

Noninfectious causes, such as chemical reactions, drug allergies, some types of cancer and inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis can also result in mild forms of meningitis.

Long-term Consequences

If not treated in time, meningitis can cause the following long-lasting consequences:

  • Hearing loss
  • Memory difficulty
  • Learning disabilities
  • Brain damage
  • Gait problems
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Shock
  • Death
  • Neurological Damage

Prevention

If you want to prevent meningitis from ever making its way into your family, you should opt for the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Stay healthy.
  • Cover your mouth
  • Take Precautions with your diet if you are pregnant.