Yes, you are. Anyone can get meningitis. The highest risk groups, though, include:
1. Travelers (especially out of the country).
2. College students (especially freshmen).
3. Adolescents and pre-teens.
Did you know that 10% of people infected with meningitis will die? And some of those who do not die will experience a long-term disability (deafness or brain damage).
How Meningitis Is Spread
It is spread through the exchange of either respiratory droplets or saliva (with an infected person). This can include sharing of cigarettes, eating utensils, or drinking glasses, coughing, sneezing or kissing.
How to Tell If You Have Meningitis.
Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. There are two types – bacterial or viral.
The symptoms of meningitis are:
* Nausea and vomiting
* Extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia)
* Stiff neck
* Head ache
* Fever (may have sudden sunset)
* Severe fatigue
* Severe pain or ache in the muscles
Although both bacterial and viral types can kill, the bacteria type is more dangerous and deadly. The symptoms can appear quickly or over the course of days and typically occur 3 – 7 days after exposure. If you have any of the symptoms listed above or suspect you have been exposed to meningitis see a doctor immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.
The most common cause of viral meningitis is enteroviruses (and this type appears most often in the summer and fall). Viral meningitis usually clears up without any specific treatment. The symptoms of the viral type are very similar to that of the bacterial type.
The bacterial type can be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics should be started as early in the course of the disease as possible. As for the viral type, antibiotics will not help. In 7 to 10 days, most people with normal immune systems will recover without treatment.
The single best prevention method is proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands often. Use alcohol-based gels only when your hands are not visibly soiled. Another prevention method is proper cleaning of surfaces. At home you can use a strong bleach solution (1 cup bleach to 1 gallon water) to wipe down hard surfaces (door knobs, counter tops, sink controls). The last method is vaccination. It should be part of the routine childhood vaccination regimen. Other high risks groups should also be vaccinated. If you think you want to be vaccinated, ask your health care provider.