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What is Meningitis? What Causes Meningitis?

What is Meningitis- It is a condition in which the fluid as well as membranes (meninges) that surround your brain and spinal cord become inflamed.

Common signs and symptoms of meningitis include a headache, fever, as well as stiff neck.

Meningitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection in the United States, although it can also be caused by bacterial, parasite, or fungal diseases. Some instances of meningitis recover in a few weeks without therapy. Others are potentially fatal and require immediate antibiotic therapy.

If you believe someone has meningitis, get medical help right once. Bacterial meningitis can be treated early to avoid catastrophic effects.

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Symptoms Of Meningitis

Early signs of meningitis may look like the flu (influenza). Symptoms may appear over a period of hours or days.

Anyone above the age of two may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • A severe headache that does not appear to be normal
  • Headache accompanied with nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion or inability to concentrate
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness or trouble waking up
  • Sensitivity to light
  • No desire to eat or drink
  • Itchy skin (sometimes, such as in meningococcal meningitis)

Signs In Newborns-

  • High temperature
  • Continuous crying
  • Irritability or excessive drowsiness
  • Having trouble waking up
  • Sluggishness or inactivity
  • Not getting up to eat
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vomiting
  • The soft region on top of a baby’s head bulges (fontanel)
  • The body and neck are stiff

Infants with meningitis can be difficult to calm, and they may cry significantly more when carried.

Meningitis Symptom

Initially, the signs of viral and bacterial meningitis might be identical. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, are frequently more severe. The signs and symptoms differ depending on age.

Viral Meningitis Symptom

What is Meningitis

Bacterial Meningitis Symptom

What is Meningitis

If you encounter these symptoms, get medical help right once. Meningitis caused by bacteria or viruses can be fatal. It’s impossible to tell if you have bacterial or viral meningitis just on how you feel. Tests will be required by your doctor to discover which kind you have.

Fungus Meningitis Symptoms

What is Meningitis? What Causes Meningitis? - 1

Chronic meningitis symptoms

When your symptoms linger more than four weeks, you’re known as chronic meningitis.

Chronic meningitis has similar symptoms to acute meningitis, although it might progress more slowly.

Meningitis rash

  • A slight rash on your skin is also one of the later indicators that the bacterial agent of meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis, is in your circulation.
  • A meningococcal meningitis infection can cause bacteria to proliferate in your blood and attack cells near capillaries. Capillary injury and minor blood leaks are caused by damage to these cells. This manifests as a rash that is pink, crimson, or purple in colour. The spots might seem like small pinpricks and can be mistaken for bruises.
  • The rash may become more visible as the virus develops and spreads. The blotches will darken and expand.
  • A meningitis rash may be tougher to spot in those with darker skin. The palms of your hands and the inside of your mouth, for example, may exhibit indications of a rash more easily.

Types of Meningitis

The most prevalent causes of meningitis are bacterial and viral infections. Meningitis can take many different forms. Cryptococcal, that is formed by a fungal infection, as well as carcinomatous, that is cancer-related, are two examples. These are less common varieties.

What is Meningitis

Viral Meningitis

The most prevalent kind of meningitis is viral meningitis. Enteroviruses are responsible for roughly 52 percent of adult infections and 58 percent of newborn cases. During summertime, they are more prevalent, and they include:

  • Coxsackievirus A
  • Coxsackievirus B
  • Echoviruses

Enteroviruses are responsible for 10 to 15 million infections each year, however only a tiny minority of those infected develop meningitis.

Meningitis can also be caused by viruses. Among them are:

  • West Nile virus
  • Influenza
  • Mumps
  • HIV
  • Measles
  • Herpes viruses

Colorado tick fever is caused by the Coltivirus. Meningitis caused by a virus usually goes away without therapy or treatment. However, certain factors must be addressed.

Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is a contagious disease due to bacterial infection. If left untreated, it can be lethal. Bacterial meningitis kills around one out of every ten persons, and one out of every five has major sequelae. Even with good care, this is possible.

The following microorganisms are the most prevalent causes of bacterial meningitis:

  • Pneumococcal meningitis
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Staphylococcal meningitis

Fungal Meningitis

Fungal meningitis is a very uncommon kind of meningitis. It’s caused by a fungus that enters your body and then travels to your brain or spinal cord through your circulation.

Fungal meningitis is more common in people who have a weaker immune system. This covers cancer patients and HIV patients.

The following are the most prevalent fungi that cause fungal meningitis:

  • Cryptococcus
  • Blastomyces
  • Histoplasma
  • Coccidioides

Parasitic Meningitis

This kind of meningitis is less prevalent than viral or bacterial meningitis and is formed by parasites found in dirt, excrement, and on some animals and foods, such as snails, raw fish, chicken, or fruit.

Some forms of parasitic meningitis are more common than others. Eosinophilic meningitis is what it’s termed (EM). EM is caused by three types of parasites. Among them are:

  • Angiostrongylus cantonensis
  • Baylisascaris procyonis
  • Gnathostoma spinigerum

Meningitis caused by parasites is not contagious. Instead, some parasites infect animals or lurk on food that is later consumed by humans. Infection may develop if the parasite or parasite eggs are contagious when consumed.

Amebic meningitis, a relatively uncommon kind of parasite meningitis, is a life-threatening illness. When one of numerous varieties of ameba enters the body through the nose when swimming in polluted lakes, rivers, or ponds, this type occurs. The parasite can induce hallucinations, seizures, as well as other dangerous symptoms by destroying brain tissue. Naegleria fowleri is the most widely identified species.

Non-infectious meningitis

It is not an infection. It’s a kind of meningitis brought on by other medical disorders or therapies. Among them are:

  • Lupus
  • A head injury
  • A brain surgery
  • Cancer
  • A few medicines

Chronic meningitis

Cases of meningitis that linger longer than four weeks are classified as this.

Fungi, rheumatological disorders, and cancer are some of the causes of chronic meningitis. The goal of chronic meningitis treatment is to eliminate the cause (i.e., managing rheumatoid arthritis).

Causes of meningitis

Each form of meningitis has a distinct cause, yet they all have the same symptoms: A bacteria, fungus, virus, or parasite moves through the body until it enters the brain or spinal cord (through the circulation, nerve terminals, or even a dormant reactivation in the nervous system). It establishes itself in the lining or fluids around these essential bodily components and progresses to a more severe illness.

Non-infectious meningitis is caused by a physical injury or another disease rather than an infection.

Is there a meningitis vaccine?

A vaccination exists for numerous kinds of bacterial meningitis. Vaccine is recommended for meningococcal meningitis, which is affected by Neisseria meningitidis. Although viral meningitis is more frequent, bacterial meningitis is more severe if not recognised and treated promptly.

As a result, the two main meningitis vaccinations are for bacterial causes:

The MenACWY vaccine (also known by brand names like Menactra, Menveo, and MenQuadfi) is a meningococcal conjugate vaccination that targets four of the most frequent bacterial serotypes. It lasts longer and provides more protection, especially if booster doses are taken regularly.
The Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, or MenB, targets a single strain and has a substantially narrower protective window.

Who should be vaccinated against MenACWY?

The MenACWY vaccination is recommended by the CDC for:

Children aged 11 to 12, with a booster dosage at the age of 16.
All children and adults who are at a higher risk of contracting meningococcal illness.

Who should be vaccinated against MenB?

Any 10 years old or older who is at concern for meningococcal illness should obtain the MenB vaccination, according to the CDC.

Special circumstances

While most younger children and adults do not require a meningitis vaccination, the CDC advises it in the following cases:

  • Certain medical problems
  • Person who have a profession that requires them to work with microorganisms
  • Travel to locations where meningitis is frequent is planned.
  • Anybody who is at a higher risk of infection owing to a meningococcal disease epidemic
  • If you come into any of criteria above, consult a doctor about the best possible time to have your kid and yourself vaccinated against meningitis.

What is the treatment for meningitis?

The aetiology of your meningitis will affect your therapy.

Bacterial meningitis necessitates hospitalisation right away. Brain injury and death can be avoided with early detection and treatment. Intravenous antibiotics and steroids are used to treat bacterial meningitis. For bacterial meningitis, there is no particular drug. It is dependent on the bacterium in question.
Antifungal medicines are used to treat fungus meningitis.

Treatment options for parasitic meningitis include treating only the symptoms or aiming to treat the disease directly. This sort of infection may improve without antibiotic therapy, depending on the reason. If the infection worsens, your doctor may try to treat it on its own.

Although viral meningitis may resolve on its own, some types of viral meningitis require intravenous antiviral medicines.

What are the symptoms of meningitis?

Meningitis is diagnosed by taking a medical history and doing a physical examination. Age, dorm location, and attendance at a childcare centre can all be useful indicators. During the physical examination, your doctor will check for the following things:

  • Fever and skin problems
  • A faster heartbeat
  • A stiff neck
  • Reduced consciousness

A lumbar puncture will also be ordered by your doctor. A spinal tap is another name for this test. It enables your doctor to examine the cerebral spinal fluid, which includes several indicators of illness. Glucose, white blood cell count, and red blood cell count are some of the signals found in the cerebral spinal fluid. This test can also be used to select the optimum antibiotic to use.

Other tests to diagnose meningitis may be required. The following are examples of common tests:

  • Bacteria in the blood are identified using blood cultures. Bacteria can cross the blood-brain barrier. Both sepsis as well as meningitis can be caused by bacteria such as N. meningitidis and S. pneumonia.
  • A difference complete blood count is a general health indicator. The amount of red and white blood cells in your blood is measured. Infection is fought by white blood cells. Meningitis causes an increase in the count.
  • Pneumonia, TB, and fungal infections can all be detected using chest X-rays. After pneumonia, meningitis can develop.
  • A head CT scan may reveal issues such as a brain abscess or high intracranial pressure. From the sinuses to the meninges, bacteria can be transmitted.

How can meningitis be avoided?

Living a healthy lifestyle is critical, especially if you’re at risk. This comprises:

  • Obtaining appropriate rest
  • not smoking
  • staying away from ill person
  • Handwash often, especially if you work in a childcare or healthcare facility.

Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics if you’ve had close contact with one or more persons who have a bacterial meningococcal illness. This will lower your risk of contracting the condition.

Certain kinds of meningitis can also be prevented with vaccinations. The following vaccines can help prevent meningitis:

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine

Meningitis can be avoided by maintaining proper personal hygiene. Close interaction with an infected person’s bodily fluids, like saliva and nasal secretions, can spread some kinds of meningitis. Drinks, utensils, and personal things that may contain saliva or other fluids should not be shared.

Listeria and pregnancy

If not treated promptly, a listeria infection (L. monocytogenes) can progress to bacterial meningitis, which can be extremely harmful to a developing newborn.

Listeria infections have lately been linked to soft cheeses, celery, sprouts, and ice cream, but this does not suggest that consuming these items while pregnant will result in infection.

If you’re pregnant, you should discuss listeria risks and diets with your doctor.

Conclusion

Meningitis is a condition in which the fluid and three membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. When the fluid around these membranes gets infected, meningitis can develop. It can take several forms, including viral, bacterial, and fungal meningitis.

It is a serious condition that can lead to death if not treated promptly. Vaccines, often for bacterial meningitis, are accessible for pre-teens and teenagers, as well as anybody who may be at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

Disclaimer

The opinions presented in this article should not be regarded as a replacement for medical advice. For more information, please contact your treating physician.

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