Meningitis is the inflammation of the protective membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. A bacterial or viral infection to the fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord is typically the cause of the swelling. Injuries, specific drugs, cancer, and other types of infection can also cause meningitis. The cause of meningitis is important to know because there are different treatments depending on the cause.
There are six different types of bacterial meningitis. Among the most prevalent are bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis. The types of meningitis are:
This type of meningitis can be deadly and requires immediate medical attention. Vaccines are available to protect against some types of bacterial meningitis.
Meningitis caused by a virus can be serious but is less severe than bacterial meningitis. People with a normal immune system tend to get better on their own. There are vaccines to prevent some types of viral meningitis.
This type of meningitis is rare, but is the result from inhaling fungal spores in the environment. People with medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, or HIV are at higher risk of fungal meningitis.
Some parasites can cause meningitis or cause other problems with the brain and nervous system. Parasitic meningitis is not as common as bacterial meningitis or viral meningitis.
A rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri is called primary amebic meningoencephalitis. Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic ameba that lives in warm water and soil.
Cancer, systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), drugs, head injury, and brain surgery can cause this type of meningitis.
The bacteria that can cause meningitis are:
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib)
Group A Streptococcal (GAS)
Group B Streptococcal (GBS)
Symptoms can appear within about five days of picking up the bacteria.
It is extremely important to know the signs of meningitis because it can be fatal within a few hours to 24 hours. Medical help should be sought immediately. General symptoms are:
Dislikes bright lights
Cold hands or feet/shivering
Paleness or blotchy skin
Two-hundred fifty thousand people are killed by meningitis every year, approximating to about ten to fifteen percent of its victims. Doctors may sometimes diagnose health problems that can be physical, neurological, or emotional, and either temporary or permanent. One in five come out with a permanent disability. Disabilities resulting from meningitis include:
Memory loss, lack of concentration, or difficult retaining information
Deafness, hearing problems, tinnitus, dizziness, or loss of balance
Weakness, paralysis, or spasms
Loss of sight/vision problems
There are vaccines that protect against the most common causes of bacterial meningitis, which are safe and effective. The number of cases has been reduced because of the vaccine. The MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine protects against types of viral meningitis. However, not all types of meningitis are preventable through a vaccine.
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SickKids staff. (2009, October 16). AboutKidsHealth. Retrieved February 25, 2022, from https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=761&language=English