Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes that cover the brain & the spinal cord, called Meninges, usually caused due a viral or bacterial infection.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF MENINGITIS
- Headache & stiff neck
- Sudden high Fever
- Chills & rashes
- Lethargy & loss of appetite
- Altered level of consciousness
- Nausea & vomiting
- Light sensitivity & fear of loud sounds
- Bulging of the top of the skull in infants
- Fast heart rate & breathing
- Leg pain
- Pain in the extremities
- Abnormal skin color
- Flexing of the knee & hip due to pain
- Bacterial meningitis: Bacteria enters the bloodstream which then reaches the meninges located in the brain and spinal cord, therefore some factors that can lead to bacterial infections are; trauma to the head, infection of the ear, nose, throat or eyes, presence of device in the brain, decreased immune response.Some bacteria that can lead to the infection are:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus)
- Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus)
- Haemophilus influenzae (haemophilus)
- Listeria monocytogenes (listeria)
- Viral meningitis: This type of meningitis is not as fatal and can be treated relatively easily. Some viruses that can lead to the infection are:
- West Nile Virus
- Herpes Simplex Virus
- Varicella Zoster Virus (Chickenpox)
- Mumps Virus
- Entero Virus
- Influenza Virus
- Fungal Meningitis
- Parasitic Meningitis
- Spread of Cancer to the meninges
- Due to some drugs like, antibiotics, NSAID’s
- Inflammation of the blood cells
- Skipping vaccines
- Age: Infants are at higher risk.
- Pregnant women
- Compromised immune system
- Falling blood pressure
- Abnormal fluctuation in body temperature
- Insufficient blood supply to other organs
- Excessive blood clotting that can lead to blockage in flow of blood
- Hemorrhage of adrenal glands
- Gangrene of limbs
- Swelling in the brain causing increased pressure
- Inflammation of the brain & its blood vessels
- Loss of pupil control
- Facial palsy
- Hearing loss
- Loss of touch.
DIAGNOSIS FOR MENINGITIS
- Blood tests to identify biomarkers & detect the presence of viral & bacterial load, similarly blood tests are done to monitor the blood electrolytes like sodium.
- Imaging tests like CT scan, MRI are done to assess the damage caused due to meningitis & also before conducting a lumbar puncture test.
- Lumbar puncture test or Spinal tap: A needle is inserted in the spinal cord to collect the CSF. It is assessed for its appearance, cloudy CSF can indicate bacterial infection, also the volume of WBC’s & platelets are determined. Several types of tests are done on the CSF to determine & differentiate between the virus or bacteria causing the infection.
- Broad spectrum antibiotics for bacterial infections
- Corticosteroids can prevent hearing loss
- Anticonvulsant medication
- TB medications
- High dose of oral antifungals
PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT OF MENINGITIS
- Washing hands frequently
- Practice good hygiene
- Exercise and healthy diet
- Cover your mouth while sneezing, coughing, etc
- Immunizations & vaccinations against various meningococcal agents like HIB, PCV13, PPSV23, etc.
- Immediate management of traumas to the head
- Treating comorbidities & infections of the eyes, ear, nose, throat, etc.
- IV fluids in case of blood pressure changes.
- Ventilator assistance for breathing.