Meningitis is a serious bacterial infection that affects the tissues (meninges) covering the brain. Apart from bacteria, meningitis is caused by virus and even fungal infection. Meningitis is of various types like Aseptic meningitis, gram negative meningitis, pneumococcal meningitis, and tuberculosis meningitis.
Among the available types, certain variety of meningitis can be treated at home and does not require hospitalization. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious one which may require immediate treatment. Viral meningitis produces symptoms like flu and hence people are tempted to take antibiotics.
Virus and bacterial infection is the most common cause for meningitis. Other causes are fungal infection, chemical reaction, taking strong medications and tumors.
Millions of bacteria live in our nose and mouth which would then pass into the blood stream to attack membranes of brain causing meningitis. Normally, there would be a protective covering between the brain and the blood stream. However, when the bacteria progresses on its way to brain, situations may change and they may find entry into the brain causing inflammation. Streptococcus pneumoniae causes this infection.
Who are at risk ?
Very rarely, meningitis also occurs due to spread of brain infection and it can occur on adults who are middle aged and children below 5 years. People who are in the habit of taking alcohol, who suffer from cancer and taking chemotherapy, and people who are diabetic and weakened immunity are prone to meningitis.
Fever (mild to severe), chills, change in mental stage, nausea, vomiting, severe headache and stiffness in neck are some of the symptoms. Depending on the intensity of infection, some people may also get shortness of breath, palpitation, aggressive behavior, difficulty in eating, and bulging fontanelles.
Doctor will complete physical examination and look for above symptoms. He may also perform lumbar puncture for testing cerebrospinal fluid. Blood test, chest X-ray and CT scan may be done, if needed.
Antibiotics are given for treating meningitis caused by bacteria and not virus. Sometimes, if the condition is critical, the patient has to be hospitalized to start intravenous fluids to reduce brain inflammation. You can take Tylenol for getting over fever before going to hospital. Treating the patient at home is not advised if the condition worsens.
The patient may get seizures, irritating headache with unbearable pain, numbness in legs and hands and profuse vomiting and disruption of thought and memory, if the brain is affected.
In case if the respiratory tract is infected, the patient will be put on intubation. Strong medicines are to be given to set right blood pressure and to reduce seizures.
Pictures of Meningitis :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Meningitis
It is advised to give vaccination of HiB to your child in proper time. You can also add pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for immunizing your child.