What is Meningitis? Know Symptoms, Types, Treatment, Diagnose and Prevention

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Meningitis is a lethal disease that has taken the lives of thousands. The brain and spinal cord get surrounded by a membrane known as the meninges. Meningitis is an inflammation of this membrane leading to infection. Bacteria, fungal or viral infections can cause it. The vaccination for meningitis is available today. However, if not taken seriously, it can lead to a life-threatening or fatal situation.

One of the most lethal forms of meningitis is when bacteria enter the bloodstream and fix themselves in the brain. It causes swelling of the meninges covering, leading to meningitis. Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza are some meningitis causing bacteria.

What are the symptoms?

Early symptoms:

  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Shivering
  • Blue lips
  • Cold hands and feet

Later symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Disillusionment
  • Fogginess
  • Seizure
  • Breathing problems
  • Light sensitivity

Who is most at risk?

Meningitis is an airborne disease. It can travel in the form of water droplets in the air and enter your body through the nasal passage.

People living in close quarters such as hostels or military camps and living or working near unvaccinated or sick domestic animals have a high chance of developing meningitis. In addition, low immunity individuals like pregnant women also have an increased risk.

How is it diagnosed?

  • A blood culture test is sent to check if meningitis causing bacteria are present in the blood.
  • X-rays or internal brain scanning to check for abnormal swelling.
  • A spinal fluid test is also conducted. Symptoms such as low blood sugar, high WBC content shows positive signs of meningitis.

Treatment options

The treatment includes antibiotics for the specific bacteria, fever and pain medication. If the swelling in the brain contains infected fluid, then it is surgically drained.

How to prevent

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Do not share utensils with a sick or infected person.
  • Keep a hand on your mouth before coughing or sneezing.
  • Eat healthy and immunity building foods.
  • Healthy exercising routine to improve body’s health.
  • Avoid undercooked or raw meat.
  • Vaccination is available for preventing meningitis. It can be administered to children from the age of 2 months to adults.
  • Meningitis is a fatal disease if left unchecked. It can lead to kidney failure, blindness, hearing loss or paralysis.