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Last Updated: Nov 11, 2019
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Meningitis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Meningitis? Types of Meningitis : What is the first sign of meningitis? What are the causes of meningitis? How to diagnose meningitis? How to treat meningitis at home? Risk factors for meningitis: Home remedies for meningitis:

What is Meningitis?

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.

Types of Meningitis :

Meningitis have been classified into following types:

  • Bacterial meningitis: 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.
  • Viral 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.
  • Chronic 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.
  • Fungal meningitis: 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.

What is the first sign of meningitis?

Meningitis is a disease in which bacteria enter into the brain and the spinal cord surrounding membrane called meninges. This bacteria causes inflammation of meninges and infection-causing organism is commonly virus but sometimes maybe bacteria, parasite or fungus can also cause inflammation. Early signs that are noticeable in adults can be fever, sleepiness, nausea and vomiting, headaches, confusion and irritability, stiff neck, cold and mottled skin, severe muscle pain, sensitivity to light, lethargy, and reduced appetite.

In infant, such infection shows signs like high fever, continuous crying, poor feeding, inactivity, and a soft spot on the front head region. Some other less common symptoms of meningitis are partial seizures, projectile vomiting, red or purple color bruises like skin rashes, etc.

What are the causes of meningitis?

There are different causes of meningitis as they have different signs and symptoms and causative organisms. If meningitis is bacterial meningitis then the inflammation of meninges occurs due to bacterias. Other causative organisms can be parasite and fungus but the most common reason behind meningitis is a virus. Any virus from a group of Enteroviruses is a leading cause behind the occurrence of meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is caused generally in infants but it can happen at any stage of age. Head or neck region infection, any type of anatomical trauma or fracture to the skull, reduced immune system, working at laboratories, etc, are also considered as causes behind the occurrence of meningitis. Fungal infection, syphilis, tuberculosis, and cancer medications are very less common causes of meningitis.

How to diagnose meningitis?

Primarily, the general physician will perform a physical examination and may check body temperature, heart rate, neck stiffness, and alertness level. In the clinical examination, spinal tap or lumbar puncture is performed that can take cerebrospinal fluid for further investigation. Other techniques like blood culture reports, computerized tomography (CT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), complete blood count, and chest X-rays are also useful for the detection of meningitis.

Once the cerebrospinal fluid is collected, it is observed under a microscope to determine the presence of bacteria as well as to decide or select the best antibiotic for treatment. Problems like brain abscess or sinusitis can be detected by CT scans while chest X-rays can reveal pneumonia, tuberculosis like conditions which are the basic cause of meningitis. One test names, the meningitis glass test is also performed at home to identify the presence of meningitis by viewing a skin rash with clear glass.

How to treat meningitis at home?

Viral meningitis can be treated at home without any type of specific treatment if the symptoms are mild. A person suffering from meningitis should take proper rest; consume enough fluids required by the body and take over-the-counter medication for fighting against fever and pain like symptoms of meningitis. Generally, if people follow this type of care at home with mild symptoms of meningitis, they can get well within 7-10 days of treatment at home itself.

If there is an occurrence of bacterial meningitis and symptoms are more severe than medical practitioners will prescribe some oral antibiotics and still, the infection persists then immediate hospitalization is a must to avoid further brain damage and get treated with intravenous antibiotics.

Risk factors for meningitis:

  • Skipping vaccinations- You are more prone in developing meningitis if you haven’t taken your meningitis vaccination in childhood.
  • Age- Bacterial meningitis is very common for those below the age of 20, whereas viral meningitis occurs in children below the age of 5.
  • Staying at a community setting- Students who live in boarding schools, military base and dormitories are more susceptible in developing meningitis. Children living in child care facilities are also prone in developing meningitis. This is because the bacterium spreads quicker through large groups.
  • Pregnancy- During pregnancy, the risk of listeriosis increases which makes you more prone to meningitis. The risk of premature delivery, stillbirth and miscarriage also increases the risk of meningitis.

Home remedies for meningitis:

Once a person diagnosed with meningitis, then certain care should be taken at home also like maintaining healthy lifestyles, getting vaccines when moving to new some new destinations or visiting some destinations that are at high risk of such conditions. Some best home remedies suggested for meningitis are the use of garlic (anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties), olive leaf extract (anti-viral and antioxidant properties), Chlorella 9high content of chlorophyll), ginseng, reishi mushrooms, and astragalus.

Other treatments like taking complete bed rest if affected by meningitis till all symptoms will vanish, using a cold pack to control fever, taking a neutral bath for proper blood circulation throughout the body can be implemented. Personal items like water bottles, straws, etc, should not be shared with others, maintain a proper distance from an infected person, maintain self-hygiene, increasing immunity, etc, are also associated with the prevention of meningitis.

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