Meningitis: A Serious Health Condition
Meningitis is a health condition that affects the thin membrane surrounding the spinal cord and brain. Bacterial meningitis, a severe and life-threatening form of the illness, is caused by a bacterial infection.
This infection targets the meninges, which work with cerebrospinal fluid to protect the central nervous system. Bacterial meningitis has a mortality rate of approximately 10 percent, according to reports.
About 20% of people with bacterial meningitis experience serious complications. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent this illness, according to the CDC.
Due to the severity of this health condition, treatment should begin as soon as possible. Bacterial meningitis is the most common type, accounting for about 80% of cases.
Every year in the USA, approximately 600 to 1000 people develop meningitis infection. However, the number of cases is decreasing as more individuals receive the meningitis vaccine.
Different Types of Meningitis Infection
Meningitis infection can be classified into several types:
This contagious infection is caused by bacteria and can be fatal if left untreated. Approximately 5 to 40% of children and 20 to 50% of adults with this condition die, even with proper treatment.
The most common bacteria responsible for causing meningitis are streptococcus pneumonia, Neisseria meningitides, Haemophilus influenza, listeria monocytogenes, and staphylococcus aureus.
This rare type of meningitis is caused by a fungal infection that spreads from the bloodstream to the spinal cord and brain.
People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, are more susceptible to developing fungal meningitis. Common fungi associated with this type include cryptococcus, Blastomyces, Histoplasma, and coccidiosis.
Parasitic meningitis is less common than bacterial or viral meningitis and is caused by parasites found in feces, dirt, animals, and certain foods.
There are various types of parasites that can cause meningitis, including angiostrongylus cantonensis, baylisascaris procynosis, and gnathostoma spinigerum. This type of meningitis can be transmitted from person to person.
Non-infectious meningitis is not caused by an infection but rather by other medical conditions or treatments. These may include head injuries, lupus, brain surgery, cancer, or certain medications.
Meningitis can also be categorized based on the speed at which symptoms develop, including acute meningitis and chronic meningitis.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Meningitis
The initial signs of meningitis typically include headache, fever, feeling unwell, and vomiting. Other symptoms such as pale skin, limb pain, and cold hands and feet often appear before neck stiffness, rash, confusion, and sensitivity to light. Not all individuals experience all the symptoms, and they may occur in a different order.
Causes of Meningitis
Each type of meningitis has a different cause but follows a similar pattern. Fungal, parasitic, and bacterial meningitis spread through the bloodstream to infect the spinal cord or brain, causing an infection. They affect the lining or fluids surrounding these vital body parts and can progress into a severe illness.
Meningitis can also occur after an infection or head injury that weakens the immune system. In some cases, the exact cause of bacterial meningitis cannot be identified. Non-infectious meningitis results from physical injuries or conditions unrelated to infections.
The symptoms of bacterial and viral meningitis are initially similar, but bacterial symptoms are usually more severe. The specific symptoms depend on the individual’s age.
In children, viral meningitis may cause irritability, decreased appetite, sleepiness, fever, and lethargy. In adults, symptoms may include fever, headaches, stiff neck, seizures, tiredness, sensitivity to light, lethargy, vomiting, nausea, and decreased appetite.
Bacterial Meningitis Symptoms
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can develop suddenly and may include nausea, altered mental status, vomiting, sensitivity