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Author Topic: Meningitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments  (Read 407 times)

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Offline Akemim

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Meningitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
« on: April 03, 2017, 07:30:40 AM »
Bacterial meningitis is generally a serious infection. Several strains of bacteria can cause meningitis, most commonly: Haemophilus influenzae (Haemophilus), Neisseria meningitides (meningococcus), Listeria monocytogenes (listeria), and Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus) bacteria. People become infected when they are in close contact with the discharges from the nose or throat of a person who is infected.

The doctor needs to know what type of meningitis has infected the patient. Certain antibiotics can stop some types from infecting others.

Viral meningitis

Although viral meningitis is the most common, it is rarely a serious infection. It is usually mild and often clears on its own. Most cases are caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses, which are most common in late summer and early fall. There is no specific treatment for this type of meningitis. Viruses such as herpes simplex virus, HIV, mumps, West Nile virus and others also can cause viral meningitis.

Chronic meningitis

Slow-growing organisms (such as fungi and Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that invade the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain cause chronic meningitis. Chronic meningitis develops over two weeks or more. The symptoms include — headaches, fever, vomiting and mental cloudiness.

Fungal meningitis

Fungal meningitis is relatively uncommon and causes chronic meningitis. It may mimic acute bacterial meningitis. Fungal meningitis isn’t contagious from person to person. Cryptococcal meningitis is a common fungal form of the disease that affects people with immune deficiencies, such as AIDS. It’s life-threatening if not treated with an antifungal medication.


Meningitis is not always easy to recognize. In many cases, meningitis may be progressing with no symptoms at all. In its early stages, symptoms might be similar to those of flu.

Early symptoms broadly include:

Muscle pain
High temperature (fever)
Cold hands and feet
A rash that does not fade under pressure. This rash might start as a few small spots in any part of the body – it may spread rapidly and look like fresh bruises. This happens because blood has leaked into the tissue under the skin. The rash or spots may initially fade and then come back.
Newborns and infants may show these signs:

Constant crying
Inactivity or sluggishness
a bulging fontenelle
being difficult to wake
Poor feeding
rapid/ unusual/ difficult breathing
pale or blotchy skin
red or purple spots that do not fade under pressure
In older children, you should look out for:

a stiff neck
severe pains and aches in your back and joints
sleepiness or confusion
a very bad headache (alone, not a reason to seek medical help)
a dislike of bright lights
very cold hands and feet
rapid breathing
red or purple spots that do not fade under pressure
Your family doctor or pediatrician can diagnose meningitis based on a medical history, a physical exam and certain diagnostic tests. During the exam, your doctor may check for signs of infection around the head, ears, throat and the skin along the spine.

You or your child may undergo the following diagnostic tests:

Blood cultures. Blood samples are placed in a special dish to see if it grows microorganisms, particularly bacteria. A sample may also be placed on a slide and stained (Gram’s stain), then studied under a microscope for bacteria.

Imaging. Computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance (MR) scans of the head may show swelling or inflammation. X-rays or CT scans of the chest or sinuses may also show infection in other areas that may be associated with meningitis.

Spinal tap (lumbar puncture). For a definitive diagnosis of meningitis, you’ll need a spinal tap to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In people with meningitis, the CSF often shows a low sugar (glucose) level along with an increased white blood cell count and increased protein.

CSF analysis may also help your doctor identify which bacterium caused meningitis. If your doctor suspects viral meningitis, he or she may order a DNA-based test known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification or a test to check for antibodies against certain viruses to determine the specific cause and determine proper treatment.

The treatment depends on four main factors:

The age of the patient
The severity of the infection
The type
Are other medical conditions present?
Bacterial meningitis

Acute bacterial meningitis must be treated immediately with intravenous antibiotics and, more recently, corticosteroids. This helps to ensure recovery and reduce the risk of complications, such as brain swelling and seizures.

The antibiotic or combination of antibiotics depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Your doctor may recommend a broad-spectrum antibiotic until he or she can determine the exact cause of meningitis.

Viral meningitis

Antibiotics can’t cure viral meningitis, and most cases improve on their own in several weeks. Treatment of mild cases usually includes:

Bed rest
Plenty of fluids
Over-the-counter pain medications to help reduce fever and relieve body aches
Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce swelling in the brain, and an anticonvulsant medication to control seizures. If a herpes virus caused your meningitis, an antiviral medication is available.

Common bacteria or viruses that can cause meningitis can spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing eating utensils, a toothbrush or a cigarette.

These steps can help prevent meningitis:

Wash your hands.Careful hand-washing helps prevent germs. Teach children to wash their hands often, especially before eating and after using the toilet, spending time in a crowded public place or petting animals. Show them how to vigorously and thoroughly wash and rinse their hands.

Practice good hygiene.Don’t share drinks, foods, straws, eating utensils, lip balms or toothbrushes with anyone else. Teach children and teens to avoid sharing these items too.

Stay healthy.Maintain your immune system by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Cover your mouth.When you need to cough or sneeze, be sure to cover your mouth and nose.

If you’re pregnant, take care with food.Reduce your risk of listeriosis by cooking meat, including hot dogs and deli meat, to 165 F (74 C). Avoid cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Choose cheeses that are clearly labeled as being made with pasteurized milk.



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