Meningitis: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatments


Meningitis is simply an inflammation of the meninges in the brain and spinal cord. The meninges are the membrane that envelope the brain and spinal cord. There are 3 membranes that cover the brain which include the pia mater, arachnoid and dura mater.  The major function of these meninges is to protect the brain and spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord makes up the central nervous system (CNS).


Some Facts about Meningitis

  • In civilized and industrialized country, about 11percent of meningitis cases are fatal.
  • In UK, there are about 2,300 cases of meningitis yearly
  • About 70 percent of meningitis patient are children and the aged; children below age 5 and adult above 60 years of age.
  • There is bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis and fungal meningitis. In the USA, about 10 out of 100,000 are affecting by viral meningitis while 3 out of 100,000 are affected by bacterial meningitis.
  • In University of Michigan Medical School, in USA, a national survey was carried out from 1998 to 2007; the research showed that routine vaccination introduction reduces the case of meningitis by 31 percent.
  • Also in Canada, in the Pediatric Infectious disease Journal (March, 2009); researchers from British Columbia University, Vancouver reported that routine immunization against a particular strain of meningococcal bacteria in children and adolescent decreases the rate of meningitis.

Causes of Meningitis

Meningitis is caused by different organisms which include bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and others. Resistance to antibiotics is a serious factor causing global increase in the rate of meningitis. The most common causative agent is virus.

Viral Meningitis
Viral meningitis is caused by different virus. An example is mosquito- borne virus. Viral meningitis has no specific cure and it is the most common type of meningitis. Most of the times, the illness get resolve by self with no side effect. It is usually not a serious infection.

Bacterial Meningitis
There are 3 types of bacteria that caused bacterial meningitis. These are Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.  In a research carried out in Imperial College London and University of Oxford, it showed how bacterial meningitis mimic the cells in human being and invade the body immune system
When meningitis is caused by Neisseria meningitidis, it is called meningococcal meningitis and when caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, it is called pneumococcal meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is infectious and people get infected when they come in contact with infected patient nose or throat discharge. There are vaccines available for children to prevent occurrence of bacterial meningitis.
People with weak and compromised immune system are at higher risk of been affected. HIV and AIDs patients are at higher risk
Patients with mastoidits or otitis medias can be infected with meningitis.

How is Meningitis Spread?
  • Meningitis can be contacted from;
  • Kissing infected patient
  • Cough and sneeze from infected patient
  • Sharing of toothbrush with meningitis patient
  • Sharing of cutleries and utensils
It is possible to get infected more the once.

Symptoms of Meningitis

Most of the times, meningitis present signs and symptoms similar to septicemia. Sometimes, meningitis may be present without showing symptoms at first. It first appears like flu when it is just coming up. However, patient with meningitis and septicemia becomes ill seriously in hours; it is of great importance to recognize meningitis signs and symptoms.

The early signs include;
Nausea, vomit, fever (high body temperature), rashes, and pains in the muscle, headaches, cold feet and hands.
The rashes may in different parts of the body as small spot at first and may later develop into bruises.

Symptoms of Meningitis in Babies
When a baby is affected by meningitis, you may notice one of these signs
Difficulty in waking baby up
Baby my refuse to eat
Blotchy skin
Jerk movement
Reddish or purple spot is seen
The frontanelle may bulge out
Baby may cry with high pitch or moan
Difficulty in breathing may be noticed

Symptoms of Meningitis in Older Children include;
Rapid breathing
Stiffed neck
Cold hand and feet with shivering
Red or purple spot
Pains in joints and back

Preventions of Meningitis

Meningitis is perfectly prevented by getting your vaccines and make sure it is up to date. Meningitis B vaccine was approved in Europe by the European Union in to prevent life threatening.  Bexsero was the first vaccine to prevent meningococcal serogroup B (Meningitis B).  Avoid sharing cutleries with infected patient. Do not kiss infected patient.

Treatment of Meningitis

In the hospital, meningitis treatment will start by making the patient to go through some test like blood test to check for the presence of meningitis bacteria or virus. Doctor will look out for the sign and symptoms of meningitis. CT scanning can also be done to check for brain problems like swelling.
The age and the severity of the infection will determine the type of treatment that will be given. Also, the causative organism will also determine the treatment that will be given.
All cases of bacterial meningitis require hospital treatment. The physician will give antibiotics intravenously. In case of difficulty in breathing, face mask may be given. Steroid medication may be given to reduce inflammations and swellings. The doctor will also try to control cases of dehydration in serious problem. Anti convulsant may be given to patient in case of seizures.
It is expected of meningitis patient to stay in hospital for some days to get full attention from doctors.

Meningitis Treatment at Home
In case of viral meningitis, some treatment can be done at home, but always contact your doctor first. Viral meningitis gets better with no problem on its own.
You can do glass testing on your own before going to hospital to check if it is meningitis.
 In the meantime at home, you can get some pain killers in case of headache and pain. Get enough rest. 

How to do Glass Test for Meningitis
Get a drinking and press it against the rash. Observe the rash if it fades and loose color under pressure, if it fades and losses color, then it is not meningitis rashes.
If there is no color change, contact your physician immediately.

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