Meningitis

What you should know about meningitis

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.

Meningitis

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
skin infection)
-Trauma exposing the meninges
-Hematologic spread (bacteria in blood)

Risk Factors;

-Age: children and elderly
-Smoking
-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:
1. Fever
2. Headache with nausea or vomiting
3. Neck stiffness

Other symptoms include:
-weakness
-loss of appetite
-photophobia
-Skin rash
-irritability
-altered consciousness
-seizures
-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)
-Blood culture
-Brain CT

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.

Complications

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

-Learning difficulties
-Seizures
-Hydrocephalus
-Septic shock
-Death
Prevention:
-Vaccination
-Creating awareness in rural areas
-Proper hygiene
-Limit contact with affected persons

Conclusion

Meningitis should be taken seriously; with prompt and adequate intervention, the possible complications
may be averted.

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