Meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is contracted by either a bacterial or a viral infection. It also may be caused by a fungal infection, a reaction to certain medications and environmental toxins, or a traumatic injury to the head or spine.

What Are Meningitis Symptoms?

The usual symptoms of meningitis are low-grade fever, headache and a stiff neck. In other patients, symptoms are nausea, vomiting, aversion to bright lights, confusion and drowsiness. In infants younger than 2 years, the standard symptoms may be impossible or difficult to distinguish, and the child may only appear sluggish or motionless, or may seem ill-tempered, may have been vomiting or may show a loss of appetite. Seizures may occur at a later stage in any age if treatment is not sought.

The symptoms of Meningitis are as follows:

Meningitis symptoms in babies:

* Fever which can be accompanied by coldness in the hands and feet

* Refusing feeds or vomiting

* High pitched moaning cry or whimpering

* Dislike of being handled and fretful

* Neck retraction with arching of back

* Blank and staring expression

* Child is difficult to wake or lethargic

* Pale blotchy complexion

Meningitis Symptoms in children and adults:

* Vomiting

* High temperature and fever

* Violent or severe headache

* Neck stiffness

* Drowsiness and lethargy

* Joint pains

* Fainting

Meningitis Treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment of meningitis is vital to recovery. Once symptoms appear, a doctor and treatment should be sought immediately. Usually, meningitis is diagnosed by removing a sample of spinal fluid from the lower back of the child, a process called a spinal tap, and then growing bacteria from the acquired sample. Once again, discovering the type of bacterium that has caused the infection is vital to selecting the right antibiotics to treat the infection and prevent a reccurrence. The earlier the child is diagnosed, the better the chance of a full recovery. Correct antibiotic treatment reduces the chance of death from common bacterial meningitis to below 15 percent in children. Because meningitis is contagious, people should practice good hygiene (wash hands frequently and thoroughly). The organisms are spread by breathing them in; they are rarely contracted by touching contaminated surfaces.

Types of Meningitis (Most common meningitis)

Bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis occurs in about 3,000-5,000 people in the US every year. Approximately 20-25% of the time. The most common bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis is Streptococcus pneumonia. If bacterial meningitis progresses rapidly, in 24 hours or less, death may occur in more than half of those who develop it, even with proper medical treatment. Bacterial meningitis risk factors, age (>60 or <5 yr), People with alcoholism, sickle cell anemia, cancer, IV drug users.

Viral meningitis (aseptic meningitis)

Determining how many people get viral meningitis is difficult because it often remains undiagnosed and is easily confused with the flu. The prognosis for viral meningitis is much better than that for bacterial meningitis, with most people recovering completely with simple treatment of the symptoms. Because antibiotics do not help viral infections, they are not useful in the treatment of viral meningitis.


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