Meningitis is a condition in which there is inflammation of the fluid and membranes brain and spinal cord. A common type of meningitis is an infection which may be caused by different terms like viruses’ bacteria and parasites.
Symptoms of meningitis
Meningitis is often not recognized in its early stages. In its early stages, the symptoms are fever, rashes, vomiting, headache, stiff neck and drowsiness. Some patients also become sensitive to light. These symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of common flu. This is one of the reasons meningitis is not diagnosed in its early stages.
Bacterial meningitis is the most common type of meningitis and accounts for around 170,000 deaths every year, globally.
Even with a prompt diagnosis, 10 to 20% of meningitis patients die within 24 to 48 hours of showing the first symptoms.
Risk of meningitis is high the ages infants to 5 years old and adolescents within 15 and 19 years of age.
Long-term effects of meningitis could be deafness, brain damage, seizures, learning difficulties and loss of limbs.
- Bacterial meningitis
The best way to prevent bacterial meningitis is through vaccination. The vaccines are available to protect against 3 major causes of bacterial meningitis, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal meningitis and Haemophilus Influenzae Type b.
Meningitis vaccines are extremely safe and there is no possibility of contracting meningitis or any other infection from these vaccines.
- Viral meningitis There is no vaccine available for prevention of viral meningitis to an extent viral meningitis can be prevented by washing the hands thoroughly and keeping surfaces clean. Vaccines for measles mumps rubella and chickenpox also help protect children against meningitis and encephalitis.
- Fungal meningitis
Again there are no vaccines available for fungal meningitis. To minimize the risk of contracting fungal meningitis, one should avoid exposure to environments containing fungal elements like bird droppings and dust.
Treatment of meningitis
Meningitis can develop quickly over a matter of hours.
Diagnosis is done by doing a blood test cerebrospinal fluid. This is the watery fluid that flows in and around the brain and spinal cord. Blood and CSF samples are cultured for the presence of bacteria. Even while the tests are being done, treatment should not wait for more than 1 or 2 hours.
Bacterial meningitis is treated using injectable antibiotics and fluid replacement. Often the patient is needed to be transferred to a hospital and kept in the ICU.
If the patient shows signs of septicemia, treatment needs to be started immediately and antibiotics be given before the Diagnostic tests are done.
Choice of antibiotics is made by the physician keeping in mind the geographical region, especially the prevalence of penicillin resistant pneumococci.
For patients allergic to antibiotics chloramphenicol may be used as an alternative.
Recovery of meningitis patients may take from a few weeks to months. Many patients may require an ongoing treatment or therapy even after the recovery. Most patients with viral meningitis recover without any permanent damage.
After effects of meningitis
Patients with bacterial meningitis are prone to After Effects and complications. A small percentage of patients get affected with serious impairments which may require ongoing support. However, most survivors get affected with the range of less serious problems.
Some of the after effects of bacterial meningitis may be aggressive behavior, acquired brain injury, balance problems cerebral palsy, behavioral changes, loss of vision, depression, emotional changes, headache, learning difficulties, memory lapses, mood swings, joint stiffness and epilepsy. Small children could be affected by a developmental delay.
After effects of viral meningitis are noticed more in newborn infants or elderly patients and it is less common in children adolescence or adults. Possible after effects of viral meningitis are balance problems, vision problems, headache, depression, mood swings and memory lapses.
After effects of septicemia include amputation, Limb loss, organ failure, skin grafts, reduced blood supply to the face, feet, toes, hands, fingers and a prolonged recovery period.