Meningitis is an infectious disease characterized by inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is this swelling of the meninges that causes the symptoms associated with the condition: headaches, fever, stiff neck, etc. Depending on the cause of the infection, the condition may get better on its own, or require emergency medical intervention.
Always seek medical assistance if you have any of these symptoms, and call your doctor if you suspect to carry an infectious disease.
Treatment of meningitis depends largely on the kind of infection that triggered the condition. Aside from the causes mentioned below, meningitis can result from other non-infectious causes such as drug allergies, chemical reactions, some forms of cancer, and in some cases, inflammatory diseases including sarcoidosis.
This form of meningitis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and cross into the brain and spinal cord. In some cases, it can occur when bacteria directly attack the meninges either as a result of ear or sinus infections, a skull fracture, or after surgery. There are a number of bacterial strains that cause meningitis. These include:
- Haemophilus influenza: At one point this used to be the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children in the U.S., until the health department issued more powerful vaccines to counter the infections.
- Streptococcus pneumonia: This strain affects infants and young children, but it can also occur in young adults. There is a vaccine to help minimize the occurrence of this strain of bacteria.
- Listeria monocytogenes: The existence of this bacterium in such common foods as hot dogs and some types of cheese makes it a concern especially for people with weak immune systems, or pregnant women, or the elderly. Listeria can also cross the placental barrier, leading to infections of the fetus.
- Neisseria meningitidis: This strain mainly affects teenagers and young adults. It is highly contagious, but there is a vaccine to minimize the risk of acquiring it.
Viral infections are the most common cause of meningitis in the U.S. This type of meningitis brings with it milder symptoms and may clear up without any medical intervention. A cluster of viruses called enteroviruses is responsible for most cases of viral meningitis in the U.S., and these infections occur mostly during summer and early fall. Other types of viruses known to cause meningitis include HIV, herpes simplex, West Nile, and mumps.
This type is relatively uncommon and can lead to chronic cases of meningitis; however it is not contagious. Most instances of fungal meningitis involve people suffering from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, and if not treated early enough with antifungal medication, it can be fatal. The most common fungal type is cryptococcal meningitis.
Chronic forms of meningitis occur when organisms such as fungi invade the fluids surrounding the brain and the membranes. Chronic meningitis develops over a period of time, usually several weeks, but the symptoms are similar with other cases of meningitis- the headaches, fever, clouding of the mind, and in some cases, vomiting.
If you or somebody you know shows these symptoms, visit a health center or call for help to get medical assistance.
Sourced from: Alot