Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
According to WHO, Meningitis is a serious infection of the meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is a devastating disease and remains a major public health challenge. The disease can be caused by many different pathogens including bacteria, fungi or viruses, but the highest global burden is seen with bacterial meningitis.
The bacteria that cause meningitis are transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from carriers. Close and prolonged contact – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters with an infected person, facilitates the spread of the disease. The average incubation period is 4 days but can range between 2 and 10 days.
There are many types of meningitis, but our focus is on bacterial meningitis.
BACTERIAL MENINGITIS SYMPTOMS
Bacterial meningitis symptoms develop suddenly. They may include:
-altered mental status
-sensitivity to light
MENINGITIS IN INFANTS
Babies who develop meningitis may show different signs and symptoms of an infection than adults. These symptoms can include:
-body or neck stiffness
-sleepy and difficulty waking
-irritable and grumpy
-doesn’t feel well and has a weak suck during breastfeeding.
MENINGITIS IN CHILDREN
Meningitis becomes more common in children as they grow older and reach high school and college ages. Symptoms of viral and bacterial meningitis in children are similar to symptoms in adults. These include:
-body and neck aches
-confusion or disorientation
-tiredness or fatigue
MENINGITIS IN ADULTS
The risk for several forms of meningitis decreases after young adulthood.
However, older individuals who are living with underlying diseases or health conditions that weaken the immune systems can be at a greater risk — especially older adults who reside in assisted living facilities, where infections can spread quickly.
HOW IS MENINGITIS TREATED?
Treatment is determined by the cause of the meningitis.
-Bacterial meningitis requires immediate hospitalization. Early diagnosis and treatment will prevent brain damage and death. Bacterial meningitis is treated with intravenous antibiotics and steroids. There’s no specific antibiotic for bacterial meningitis. It depends on the bacteria involved.
PREVENTION OF MENINGITIS
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if you’re at increased risk, is important. This includes:
-getting an adequate amount of rest
-avoiding contact with sick people
-washing your hands often, especially if you work in a daycare or healthcare setting.
Take care of your health today and stay healthy.
Written by: Sarah Amah