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Meningitis Definition

Meningitis is a rare but serious infection of the meninges. The meninges are the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The most frequent causes of meningitis include viruses, bacteria, and infrequently fungus. Children are more frequently affected by viral meningitis, which is typically a less deadly type of meningitis. It may result in excruciating headaches. Viruses that dwell in feces, mouthwash, and nose fluids commonly cause viral meningitis.

Meningitis Definition

Typically, bacterial meningitis is more serious. It is brought on by germs that often cause no harm and are found in the nose and throat. However, they have the potential to enter the bloodstream and spread to the membrane that surrounds the brain, resulting in meningitis. A medical emergency is bacterial meningitis. Early identification and treatment are crucial because it can kill in a matter of hours.

When should I seek Medical Attention?

If your child complains of eye pain from bright lights, a persistent headache, a stiff neck, or an inexplicable fever, take them to the doctor. If you or a child displays meningococcal disease

  1. An aversion to bright lights
  2. A fever with a strong headache
  3. A stiff neck
  4. A skin rash with red or purple spots that do not turn white when you press on them with your finger.

What are the Symptoms of Meningitis?

Some common symptoms are-

  1. Fever
  2. Yellow skin (jaundice),
  3. Odd or high-pitched screaming,
  4. Lethargy or floppiness,
  5. Irritability

These are all signs of meningitis in infants and very young children:

  1. Issues with feeding
  2. Difficulty waking up
  3. Putting their head back and arching their back
  4. Bruises or a purple-red skin rash
  5. Pale or blotchy skin
  6. Seizures (fits)

Older children and adults who have meningitis typically exhibit the following symptoms:

  1. A high temperature
  2. A sensitivity to light
  3. An excruciating headache and a stiff or aching neck
  4. A loss of appetite
  5. Fatigue and drowsiness
  6. Irritability
  7. A purple-red rash or bruising
  8. Muscular and joint problems
  9. Seizures (fits)

The signs and symptoms don't always show up in a specific order, and some might not even show up at all. Meningitis does not always result in a rash. Not every symptom of meningitis may be included in this list of symptoms.

What Causes Meningitis?

Meningitis is typically transmitted from person to person through close contact, such as kissing, sneezing, coughing, and sharing of personal objects. Enteroviruses (Common stomach viruses) typically cause viral meningitis. Herpes simplex types I and II, chickenpox, measles, mumps, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) virus are additional risk factors. Meningococcal, pneumococcal, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), tuberculosis, group B streptococcus, and E. coli meningitis bacteria are all capable of causing bacterial meningitis.

How is Meningitis Diagnosed?

Meningitis is diagnosed with a blood test and perhaps with a lumbar puncture. In order to collect a sample of the fluid around the brain and spine, a needle is inserted into the base of the spine. To determine the sort of infection that caused the meningitis, the fluid is studied.

Types of Meningitis

The leading causes of meningitis include bacterial and viral diseases. There are other additional types of meningitis. Examples include carcinomatous, which is connected to cancer, and cryptococcal, which is brought on by a fungus. These kinds are less typical.

1. Viral meningitis

The most typical type of meningitis is viral meningitis. About 52% of cases in adults and 58% in newborns are caused by viruses in the enterovirus category. These are more prevalent in the summer and in the fall, and they consist of:

  • Coxsackieviruses A
  • Coxsackieviruses B
  • Echoviruses

Infections caused by enteroviruses account for 10 to 15 million cases per year. Annually, but only a small proportion of those who contract the infection go on to develop meningitis. Meningitis can be caused by other viruses. These consist of HIV, measles, mumps, HIV, West Nile virus, herpes viruses, and Coltivirus, which causes Colorado tick fever. Usually, viral meningitis clears up on its own. Some causes, nevertheless, do require treatment.

2. Bacterial meningitis

Meningitis caused by specific bacteria is infectious and contagious. If untreated, it might be lethal. One in ten patients with bacterial meningitis die from it, and one in five suffer from severe consequences. This is still possible even with appropriate care. The most typical bacterial species that result in bacterial meningitis include-

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae, which can cause "pneumococcal meningitis" and is generally found in the nasal cavity, sinuses, and respiratory tract.
  • Neisseria meningitidis, which causes "meningococcal meningitis" and is transferred via saliva and other respiratory fluids.
  • Staphylococcus aureus, which is commonly found on the skin and in nasal passages and causes "staphylococcal meningitis," is a type of food-borne bacteria.

3. Fungal meningitis

A rare kind of meningitis is fungus meningitis. A fungus that affects your body causes it to spread to your brain or spinal cord through your bloodstream. A compromised immune system increases the risk of fungal meningitis. This includes those who have HIV or cancer. The fungi that cause fungal meningitis most frequently include-

  • Cryptococcus, which is inhaled through dirt or soil that has bird droppings, particularly pigeon and chicken droppings, or rotting vegetation.
  • Blastomyces, a different variety of fungus that is present in soil, especially in the Midwest of the United States.
  • Histoplasma, which inhabits areas that are highly polluted by bat and bird droppings, particularly in the Midwestern States close to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
  • Coccidioides, it is found in the soil of some regions of the Southwest of the United States and South and Central America.

4. Parasitic meningitis

This type of meningitis, which is less prevalent than viral or bacterial meningitis, is brought on by parasites that can be found in excrement, dirt, and on some types of food and animals, such as raw fish, chicken, and fruit, as well as in some snails. There are various different types of parasite meningitis. Eosinophilic meningitis (EM) is the term for it. The three primary parasites that cause EM are as follows:

  • Angiostrongylus cantonensis
  • Baylisascaris procyonis
  • Gnathostoma spinigerum

No one can contract parasitic meningitis from another person. Rather, these parasites attack an animal or lurk on food that is later consumed by humans. An infection may happen if the parasite or parasite eggs are contagious when consumed. Amoebic meningitis, a very uncommon form of parasite meningitis, is a potentially fatal infection. This type is brought on by swimming in contaminated ponds, rivers, or lakes, which allows one of numerous amoeba species to enter the body through the nose. In the long run, the parasite may result in hallucinations, seizures, and other severe symptoms by destroying brain tissue. Naegleria fowleri is the species that is most frequently recognized.

5. Non-infectious meningitis

Meningitis that is not contagious is not an illness. Instead, it is a form of meningitis brought on by other illnesses or medical procedures. These consist of:

  • Lupus
  • A head injury
  • Brain surgery
  • Cancer
  • Certain medications

Chronic Meningitis

Meningitis cases that linger for more than four weeks are classified under this category. Among other things, fungus, rheumatological disorders, and cancer are among the causes of chronic meningitis. Managing rheumatoid arthritis is the primary goal of treatment for chronic meningitis.

Can Meningitis be Prevented?

  • If you practice good cleanliness, your risk of contracting viral or bacterial diseases is reduced.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing drink containers, glasses, and silverware.
  • Cough into the elbow.
  • After using tissues, immediately dispose of them in the trash and wash your hands.

The best approach to prevent meningitis is to keep up with standard childhood vaccines because many of the viruses and bacteria that cause meningitis can be substantially prevented by them. There are further alternative vaccines available against various meningococcus types that can cause bacterial meningitis.

Meningococcal Vaccine

The best defense against meningitis illness is vaccination. Meningococcal B and ACWY vaccinations can be given starting at age 6 weeks. The meningococcal vaccine is advised for:

  • New-borns and young children under the age of two
  • Teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 19
  • Adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 who live in close quarters.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children between the ages of 2 months and 19
  • Teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 who smoke.
  • Visitors to areas where meningococcal disease is more prevalent.
  • And individuals with medical conditions that increase their risk of meningococcal disease, such as those with certain blood disorders or weak immune.

Complications of meningitis

After meningitis, the majority of patients fully recover. Depending on the illness's form and intensity, some people bounce back pretty quickly while others do so more slowly. Short-term memory loss, recurrent headaches, fatigue, mood changes, and other side symptoms are common in meningitis survivors, though they typically go away over time. Meningitis can occasionally result in severe or protracted issues including a stroke, brain damage, seizures, or hearing loss. Meningitis can occasionally be lethal.

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