Meningitis is a severe inflammatory condition that affects the innermost, or arachnoid, layer of the meninges. These are the delicate membranes that protect both the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis also affects the cerebrospinal fluid, which circulates in the ventricles and the subarachnoid space. Having Meningitis a medical emergency. Typically, it's caused by infections transmitted by microorganisms, particularly bacteria and viruses. Anyone can be affected by meningitis. Children under five years and teenagers are the most at risk of bacterial infection due to meningococcus. In some cases, other diseases can have an impact on the meninges, as do certain drugs. If meningitis is detected in the early stages, a range of treatments is possible, including antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and corticosteroids. Therefore, early detection is of utmost importance.
People with both bacterial and viral meningitis tend to run a fever. With bacterial meningitis, the fever comes on suddenly, reaching high temperatures that can be anxiety-provoking. Patients may also experience cold hands or feet. Viral meningitis usually causes a low-grade fever that easily subsides with over-the-counter medication. The fever in both cases is accompanied by chills as well, often leading people to confuse meningitis with common flu.
A classic symptom of meningitis is stiffness in the neck that prevents passive flexing of the neck. If a meningitis patient experiences neck stiffness, it implies that the infection has settled in his nervous system. The disease causes inflammation of the membranes in the neck region.
Many patients affected by meningitis experience a severe, persistent headache. It's incredibly intense and easy to differentiate from other, ordinary headaches. This headache is caused when the meninges of the brain get infected and thus inflamed. The skull pressurizes the brain as its swelling gets severe, causing the acute headache.
Individuals with meningitis may also find themselves experiencing unprecedented nausea. A vomiting spell sometimes follows this. Nausea and vomiting occur when the inflammation of the meninges causes intracranial pressure to rise. This stimulates the area postrema, the vomiting center of the brain. The more severe the infection, the more likely it is that the patient's nausea translates into a vomiting spell.
Photophobia denotes abnormal intolerance to light, which causes discomfort or pain in the eyes. While this symptom is associated with meningitis, fewer patients tend to have it. The medical world doesn't fully understand why meningitis causes photophobia, though meningeal irritation is responsible for it at some level. Photophobia can be very traumatizing to patients with meningitis.
Phonophobia is an intolerance to sounds, especially those at high frequencies. It causes meningitis patients to feel extremely uncomfortable around loud sounds. People with photophobia and phonophobia often seclude themselves in the dark, quiet places to get some relief.
Those with bacterial meningitis are also likely to exhibit a loss in mental agility. They may seem constantly drowsy, often expressing a desire not to wake up and leave the bed. At other times, they may be confused. They may become lost in ordinary situations that are otherwise be easily understandable. Extreme irritability in bacterial meningitis patients is also common. Possibly the increase in intracranial pressure leads to neuronal damage. Depending upon which area of the brain is affected, related neurological deficits occur.
Many meningitis patients, especially children, exhibit a disinterest in food during their illness and recovery. The exact cause of this loss of appetite for meningitis is unknown. Some experts suggest that the trauma of meningitis leads patients to reject food. However, there is little consensus over this.
When the meningococcal bacterium is responsible for meningitis, a distinctive rash may appear upon the skin. This reddish-purple rash resembles a bruise and does not turn white if a glass is pressed against it. The rash may indicate blood poisoning. If you spot this rash, treat it as a medical emergency, and seek medical assistance immediately.
People with very severe meningitis may also experience seizures. The exact pathophysiology of their occurrence is yet unknown. Possibly the infection affects the brain in ways that lower the seizure threshold. This may cause a patient to experience involuntary muscle spasms or even lose consciousness in extreme cases. If an individual experiences a seizure, even a mild one, consult a physician immediately.
Meningitis is not a condition to take lightly. Don't expect it to resolve itself without treatment. This condition can be life-threatening. The risk of complications is high, as is the possibility of developing further medical problems. Furthermore, prompt about seeking medical aid if a combination of these symptoms occurs. With timely treatment, full recovery is possible, though that too may take some time.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.