Meningitis – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Meningitis is a viral.It’s means the cause is infection with a virus. Bacterial meningitis is quite rare but it can be very serious and needs urgent treatment with antibiotics.It is a inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord called the meninges. It is rarely occurs when an infection in the body spreads through the blood and into the cerebrospinal fluid.This fluid that cover the outside of the brain and spinal cord. The infection can spread into the brain tissue and cause brain damage.Meningitis mostly present in kids age 5 and younger, and in between16 to 25 year olds, but people can get meningitis at any stage of life.

Symptoms

Symptoms of meningitis, which may appear suddenly, often include high fever, severe and persistent headache, stiff neck, nause, and vomiting. Changes in behavior, such as confusion, sleepiness, and difficulty waking up, are important symptoms. In infants, symptoms of meningitis are often much less specific and may include irritability or tiredness, poor feeding, and fever.

Adult Meningitis Symptoms

About 25% of those who develop meningitis have symptoms that develop over 24 hours. The remainder generally become ill over one to seven days. Occasionally, if someone has been on antibiotics for another infection, the symptoms can take longer to develop or may be less intense. If someone is developing fungal meningitis (most commonly someone who is HIV positive), the symptoms may take weeks to develop.

Causes

Many of the bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis are fairly common and are typically associated with other routine illnesses. Bacteria and viruses that infect the skin, urinary system, gastrointestinal or respiratory tract can spread by the bloodstream to the meninges through cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that circulates in and around the spinal cord.

The most common infectious causes of meningitis vary according to an individual’s age, habits, living environment, and health status. While nonbacterial types of meningitis are more common, bacterial meningitis is the more potentially life-threatening. Three bacterial agents are responsible for about 80% of all bacterial meningitis cases. These bacteria are Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitidis (causing meningococcal meningitis), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (causing pneumococcal meningitis).

How is meningitis diagnosed?

Early diagnosis and treatment are very important. If symptoms occur, the patient should see a doctor immediately. The diagnosis is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is obtained by performing a spinal tap, in which a needle is inserted into an area in the lower back where fluid in the spinal canal is readily accessible. Identification of the type of bacteria responsible is important for selection of correct antibiotics.

Treatment

If meningitis is suspected, medical advice should be sought immediately. Because some of the early symptoms might be similar to other conditions, a high level of suspicion is required, especially with children.
Prevention is better than cure! Effective vaccines are now available against some types of meningitis.

Acute bacterial meningitis requires prompt treatment with intravenous antibiotics to ensure recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

Pneumovax (also known as Prevenar) against Streptococcus pneumoniae is recommended for all people 65 years of age or older.
Drugs such as dexamethasone are sometimes given to reduce inflammation or to reduce the chance, or spread, of septicemia.