Meningitis is the inflammation (swelling) of the meninges (the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord)
What Causes Meningitis?
The inflammation of the meninges may either be caused by an infectious process (bacterial, viral or fungal origin) or non-infectious process (systemic lupus erythematosus, Bechet’s disease, NSAID use).
Common causes of bacterial meningitis in our society includes:
Neisseria Meningitides bacteria, Streptococcus Pneumonia, Hemophilus influenza.
How Does a Person get Meningitis?
-Transmission from contact with air droplets of an infected person
-Infection May spread from a nearby focus (upper respiratory tract infection, ear infection, scalp/face
-Trauma exposing the meninges
-Hematologic spread (bacteria in blood)
-Age: children and elderly
-living with weakened immunity (HIV, using immunosuppressant drugs)
-Chronic heart or lung diseases
-People living in endemic regions
-Living in overcrowded and poor sanitary conditions
Signs and Symptoms
Typically, it presents with a triad:
2. Headache with nausea or vomiting
3. Neck stiffness
Other symptoms include:
-loss of appetite
-in newborns (constant crying, poor feeding, bulging fontanelle)
How is Meningitis Diagnosed
-Elaborate history taking (contact tracing, travel history, comorbidities)
-Full blood count
-Lumbar puncture with Cerebrospinal fluids Analysis (to identify the causative agent)
Treatment of Meningitis
-Treat the causative agent: If of infectious origin Antibiotic, Anti-viral, Anti-fungal therapy
For Non-infectious origin, eliminate the precipitating factor.
-Supportive care: iv fluids, antipyretics, analgesics, sedatives, vitamins, anti-emetics, diet.
Due to the proximity to the brain, poorly managed meningitis can lead to permanent brain damage.
Some of the possible complications includes:
-Hearing loss, vision loss
-Creating awareness in rural areas
-Limit contact with affected persons
Meningitis should be taken seriously; with prompt and adequate intervention, the possible complications
may be averted.