Meningitis symptoms may sometimes mimic influenza (the flu). Meningitis symptoms can also occur over several hours or in few days.
Meningitis is a swelling of the meninges which are the membranes which surrounds your spinal cord and brain.
This inflammation from meningitis often triggers symptoms such as fever, a stiff neck and headache.
In the U. S., most cases of meningitis are caused by a viral infection. Other causes include fungal and bacterial infections. Several cases of meningitis infections improve in a few weeks without treatment, while in other cases; it can become life-threatening and needs quick treatment using antibiotics.
Causes Of Meningitis
Meningitis causes can be bacterial, viral, and fungal or as a result of other causes.
Meningitis caused by virus infections are the most common cause of meningitis. And is also followed by bacterial infections and, fungal infections in some rare cases. Since bacterial infections can be life-threatening, knowing the cause is of essence.
Here are some of the causes of meningitis:
1. Bacterial Meningitis
When bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain and spinal cord. It can also cause acute bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis also occur when the meninges is attacked by bacteria directly. This can be caused by a sinus or ear infection, fracture of the skull, or some surgeries in some rare cases.
Other strains of bacteria can lead to acute bacterial meningitis. The most common include:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae(pneumococcus)
- Haemophilus influenzae (haemophilus)
- Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus)
- Listeria monocytogenes (listeria)
This is the most common type of meningitis. Viral meningitis is often mild and often clears by itself. Most cases of viral meningitis in the U. S. are as a result of a group of viruses known as enteroviruses. They are common in late summer and early fall. Viral meningitis can also be caused by viruses such as HIV, herpes simplex virus, mumps, West Nile virus and others.
3. Chronic Meningitis
Organisms with slow growth (such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and fungi) which invade the meninges also cause chronic meningitis. Chronic meningitis can develop over two weeks or more. Some of the symptoms associated with chronic meningitis include: fever, headaches, vomiting and mental cloudiness. These symptoms are also similar to those of acute meningitis.
4. Fungal Meningitis
Fungal meningitis is relatively uncommon and also causes chronic meningitis. It may mimic acute bacterial meningitis. Fungal meningitis is not contagious from person to person. Cryptococcal meningitis is a common fungal disease that affects people with immune deficiencies, such as AIDS. It’s life-threatening if not treated with an antifungal drug.
5. Other Meningitis Causes
Meningitis infection can also be as a result of some non-infectious causes, such as drug allergies, chemical reactions. And also some types of cancer and diseases such as sarcoidosis.
Some early symptoms mimic the flu (influenza). Meningitis symptoms can also occur over several hours or over a few days.
Some of the possible signs and symptoms of meningitis in persons older than the age of 2 include:
- Headache which often comes with vomiting or nausea
- Sudden high fever
- Stiff neck
- Difficulty in concentrating or confusion
- Severe headache which seems different than normal
- Sleepiness or difficulty waking
- Sensitivity to light
- Lack of appetite
- Skin rash
Meningitis Symptoms In Newborns
Infants and newborns may manifest the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Constant crying
- Excess sleepiness
- Poor feeding
- A bulge, found in the soft spot on top of a baby’s head.
- Stiffness in a baby’s body
- Stiff neck
Bacterial meningitis is very serious. And becomes fatal within days without prompt treatment using antibiotic. Any delay in treatment raises the risk of permanent brain damage or even death.
Risk Factors For Meningitis
Some of the risk factors for meningitis include:
- Age. Viral meningitis often occurs in children who are younger than 5 years. Bacterial meningitis is also common in people under 20 years.
- Skipping Meningitis Vaccinations.They is an increased risk for anyone who has not finished any recommended childhood or adult vaccination program.
- Pregnancy. They is an increased risk listeria infection during pregnancy. Which can also cause meningitis. Listeria infection can also lead to an increased risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and also premature delivery.
- Living In a Community Setting. Students who live in dormitories, children in boarding houses and in care facilities, and personnel on military bases, have a higher risk of meningococcal meningitis. This is likely because the bacteria is spread through the respiratory route, and also spreads fast in large groups.
- Compromised Immune System. Diabetes AIDS, alcoholism, use of immunosuppressant drugs and other factors that can affect your immune system. And can also make you more at risk to getting meningitis. Your risk is also high if your spleen has been removed. And patients without spleen should also be vaccinated to reduce that risk.
Complications Of Meningitis
Meningitis problems can be quite severe. And when you stay longer without treatment. They are greater risk of seizures and permanent neurological damage, which include:
- Loss of hearing loss
- Memory difficulty
- Brain damage
- Learning disabilities
- Gait problems
- Kidney failure
Diagnosis Of Meningitis
There are some diagnostic tests for meningitis, they include:
- Blood cultures
- Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
- CSF analysis
- DNA-based test also known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification.
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Treatment Of Meningitis
Treatment of meningitis depends on the type you or your child suffers from.
Bacterial Meningitis Treatment
Acute bacterial meningitis should be treated fast using intravenous antibiotics and also corticosteroids. This treatment aids recovery and also reduces the risk of problems, such as seizures and brain swelling.
The antibiotic treatment used also depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Until the exact cause is known, your doctor may also recommend broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Your doctor may also drain the infected mastoids or sinuses.
Viral Meningitis Treatment
Antibiotics can’t be used to cure cases of viral meningitis. But most cases of viral meningitis improve on their own in several weeks. Some of the treatment of mild cases of viral meningitis often includes:
- Lots of fluid
- Bed rest
- Over-the-counter pain drugs are taken to reduce fever and also relieve body aches.
- Corticosteroids is also be prescribed by your doctor to reduce the swelling in the brain.
- Anticonvulsant drugs may also be prescribed to control seizures.
- An antiviral drug is prescribed if the cause of your meningitis is a herpes virus.
Fungal Meningitis Treatment
Antifungal drugs can be used to treat fungal meningitis, together with a mix of specific antibiotics which can also be used to treat tuberculous meningitis. In cases of chronic meningitis, it is also treated based on the underlying cause.