Posted by JR Olson | Posted in Chemistry, Health And Fitness | Posted on 31-10-2014
Meningitis is a disease that can result in serious health problems, including brain damage and even death. Meningitis most commonly affects children, teens, and young adults. Meningitis must be treated immediately to avoid devastating effects, and familiarization with the types, symptoms, and treatments of meningitis are critical.
Types and Causes of Meningitis
Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, or the three membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. The main function of the meninges is to protect the nervous system. Meningitis attacks this function. .
There are two types of meningitis: viral and bacterial. Viral meningitis is both the most common and the less serious of the two, usually causing seizures or prolonged fevers, but rarely resulting in serious illness. Bacterial meningitis can be extremely dangerous and is sometimes fatal. It must be treated immediately to avoid brain damage or death.
While viruses and bacteria cause the majority of meningitis cases, a person can also get the disease by some medicines or other organisms, though this is incredibly rare.
Weak immune systems have been linked to reoccurring bacterial meningitis. Meningitis is contagious and, like the common cold, can be spread through close contact with infected people, as well as through sneezing and coughing.
Symptoms of Meningitis
Meningitis can be hard to detect, sharing symptoms with many other illnesses, including the flu. Occasionally, meningitis can be symptomless. In most cases, symptoms include vomiting, nausea, muscle pain, fever, headache, cold extremities, and a rash that resembles a bruise. In infants, the symptoms are slightly different: a high-pitched moaning cry, a bulging fontanel (the soft spot at the back of the head where bone ossification is not complete), listlessness, difficulty breathing, pale or blotchy skin, and red or purple spots are things that you should watch for.
You can also use the glass test to test for a meningitis rash. To do so, press the side of a drinking glass against the rash firmly. If the rash fades and loses color under the glass, then it is not a meningitis rash. If it does not fade or change color, you should contact a doctor immediately.
Treatment of Meningitis
The type of meningitis treatment given is dependent upon four factors: the age of the patient, the severity of the infection, the cause of meningitis, and other medical conditions that may be present within the patient. Viral meningitis usually resolves itself within two weeks and does not require treatment. For bacterial meningitis, the most common treatment is antibiotics. Other treatments include corticosteroids, acetaminophen, anti-convulsants, oxygen therapy, fluid control, blood tests, and sedatives.
The best way to prevent meningitis is through vaccination. Along with other vaccines administered to children, including shots for measles and chickenpox, your child should receive the meningococcal vaccine to prevent bacterial meningitis. The latter is recommended for adolescents at age 11-12, young adults (under age 21) who haven’t received the shot yet; people who plan to travel to countries with known meningitis outbreaks, those without a spleen, and people with HIV. In some cases, a booster shot every 5 years is necessary.
Being up-to date on your family’s vaccinations is important. If you’re unsure if you or your child has received the vaccination against meningitis or if you’re planning to travel abroad, you should call your doctor. If your child hasn’t been vaccinated, keep an eye out for the onset of meningitis symptoms and act immediately if any are detected.
Tyler Prescott is interested in vaccines, disease prevention, medical science, bird flu, health and wellness and other associated topics. Those who’d like to learn about meningitis vaccines should check out the information at Houston Vaccines on the matter.