Meningitis is an infectious disease that acts as an inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is a very serious condition that may be lethal due to the inflammation of such essential parts of the body. It is usually caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites, but has also non-infectious causes such as certain medications or illnesses.
There are two types of meningitis: bacterial and viral meningitis, also called aseptic meningitis. The first one is most severe, but also rare and can endanger one’s life,while the viral meningitis is more common and less serious, but may be extremely dangerous, if left untreated. It is likely to mistaken its symptoms with the effects of an ordinary flu. Only a medical doctor can discriminate between the two and put an accurate diagnostic.
The best health advice for Meningitis can be prevented by routine vaccination and medical check-ups to depict any signs of these illnesses so it can be treated adequately.
Diagnosis is made by lumbar puncture which consists of inserting a needle into the spinal canal to extract a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to be examined at the lab.
If meningitis is depicted early, it can be successfully treated just with antibiotics or antiviral drugs, if that’s the case. If the infection has spread, further medical attention and other drugs are necessary. Other medication is also required for preventing complications due to the inflammation.
Ordinary bacteria and viruses may be the cause for meningitis, but in the case of bacterial inflammation, it is due to head trauma or other severe conditions, such as ear infections or sinusitis.
The symptoms of meningitis vary and have to be correctly diagnosed because both types of meningitis, in early stages, manifest symptoms very much alike with ordinary flu symptoms. Left untreated, bacterial meningitis can lead to severe consequences like neurological problems amongst which deafness, visual impairment, epilepsy, seizures and learning disabilities are extremely serious.
Common symptoms include fever, lethargy, headaches, neck stiffness, altered consciousness, sensitivity to light and loud noises, skin rashes and seizures. Meningitis is highly infectious and may spread between people in close contact, through tiny drops of fluid. Whenever an infected person laughs, coughs or sneezes it might transmit the infections to people found in his proximity. Different items that the infected person uses may become sources of contracting the disease.