Meningitis is a condition where the protective covering membranes and tissues of the brain or spinal cord become inflamed, typically due to an infection. Although meningitis is usually associated with young children, it can also affect people into their teens as well as anyone with a weaker immune system, such as the elderly or those with chronic illness.
There are two different types of meningitis which a person can develop. They are:
This type of meningitis is the most common and does not lead to more serious illnesses. Severe cases may result in prolonged fevers or some seizures but does not result in death.
This type of meningitis is not as common as Viral Meningitis but causes serious health problems or even death. Bacterial Meningitis should be treated immediately in order to avoid brain damage or, in severe cases, death.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Although meningitis can be caused by either a virus or a bacteria, the germs it creates are contagious and can be passed from person to person much in the same way germs for the common cold are passed. As a result, communities which experience an outbreak of cases will often encourage people to come in when they have any of the symptoms for meningitis.
These symptoms are:
- Stiff neck marked also by pain associated with bowing the head
- Nausea and Vomiting
While these are common symptoms, some people may experience symptoms specific to their age.
A common symptom for babies is sudden and intense crankiness. They may also develop a rash and will cry much more often, including when they are held
Symptoms for younger children can often be mistaken for the flu. Respiratory problems are not uncommon and they may also cough often, without expelling anything
The elderly and adults with a history of chronic illness may only develop a headache and fever. Although the symptoms for these individuals may not seem very serious, their increased risk means they should be checked out as soon as possible
Treatment for meningitis varies depending on the type of meningitis. Bacterial Meningitis is treated in the hospital with the use of antibiotics. Patients with Bacterial Meningitis are kept under observation in order to prevent further health problems such as hearing loss, increased seizures or brain damage.
As Viral Meningitis is more common, it is usually treated at home after diagnosis. For most cases, treatment is similar to that for a severe cold with doctors recommending plenty of fluids and bed rest in conjunction with over the counter and prescribed medications to manage the fever and pain.