Meningitis is a condition which is characterized by the inflammation of meninges (membranes) surrounding your spinal cord and brain. This can trigger signs like a stiff neck, fever and headache. Usually meningitis improves without any treatment after a few weeks but in some rare cases it can be life threatening and requires antibiotic treatment.
When should you see a doctor?
It is not necessary to visit a doctor if you have meningitis. It is recommended to visit a healthcare specialist only if some severe signs are associated with meningitis such as:
Meningitis which is caused by bacteria which travels to the brain and spinal cord by entering into the bloodstream causes acute bacterial meningitis. It can even occur when bacteria invades the meninges directly. This can be caused due to certain surgeries, skull fractures, sinus infection or ear infection. Pneumococcus, meningococcus, haemophilus and listeria are the most common bacteria which cause meningitis.
This form of meningitis clears up on its own and is very mild. Viral meningitis is caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses. This is more common in the early fall and the late summer. Some viruses like West Nile virus, mumps, HIV and herpes simplex virus can also cause viral meningitis.
Organisms such as mycobacterium tuberculosis and fungi which invade the fluid surrounding our brain and the membranes cause chronic meningitis. Some symptoms of chronic meningitis include mental cloudiness, vomiting, fever and headaches.
This is very uncommon and mimics acute bacterial meningitis. It isn’t that contagious. It affects people with immune deficiencies like AIDS. If it is not treated with antifungal medication, it can be life threatening.
Risk factors for meningitis: