Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation in the delicate protective membranes called meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord. This swelling can lead to life-threatening complications.
These frequently asked questions and answers are designed to help you understand the symptoms, causes, and diagnostic indicators of the severe infection. Let’s take a closer look at meningitis.
FAQ # 1: What Causes Meningitis?
Meningitis almost always results from a viral infection from microorganisms. It can also be caused by bacterial infections (the most serious cases) and, rarely, by fungal and parasitic infections. Other causes include tumors, certain drugs, and other forms of infections.
FAQ # 2: What are the clinical symptoms of meningitis?
Common symptoms of meningitis can include:
- Confusion and irritability
- Headache along with nausea or vomiting
- A stiff neck
- Numbness of the face
- Difficulty waking up
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Feeling sleepy or unresponsive
- Seizures (fits)
- Loss of appetite and thirst
- Rash (for meningococcal meningitis)
Less common causes of meningitis include:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Cancer drugs
- Brain surgery
FAQ # 3: How long does it take for the symptoms to manifest?
The first signs and symptoms of viral meningitis usually appear three to seven days after infection.
FAQ # 4: What does meningitis headache feel like?
Headache is usually a predominant symptom of meningitis. A headache caused by meningitis is spread throughout the head and is typically described as severe and relentless. It does not subside after taking a pain reliever.
FAQ # 5: Which age group is at high risk of developing meningitis?
Meningococcal disease can affect anyone, but it is most common in the following age groups:
- Children under 5 years
- Adolescents and young adults between 16 and 25 years of age
- Adults over 55 years
- People with certain medical conditions, such as B. a damaged spleen, a long-term illness or diseases of the immune system
FAQ # 6: How does the disease spread?
Person-to-person transmission can occur through direct and indirect contact between people through:
- Coughing up droplets
- Contact with the feces
- Consumption of contaminated food
- Sharing utensils or drinking cups with an infected person
- Sharing toothbrushes or cigarettes with an infected person
FAQ # 7: Is Meningitis Serious?
Because meningitis affects the brain, it can be serious if not treated quickly. It can cause blood poisoning (septicemia), a life-threatening inflammation that can cause permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
FAQ # 8: Does Meningitis Cause Mental Disorders?
Meningitis can make people feel unwell and can have numerous life-changing consequences, including depression, fatigue, balance problems, and mood swings. In addition, meningitis can affect a person’s memory over the long term and leave a range of health problems in survivors that make it impossible to return to normal.
FAQ # 9: Are There Vaccines To Prevent The Disease?
Yes, there are a variety of vaccines that provide some protection against meningitis.
FAQ # 10: What are some possible complications of meningitis?
Although most people make full recovery from meningitis, it can occasionally lead to serious long-term complications and even death. For this reason, in order to successfully treat meningitis, it is important to get medical help as soon as possible. The following are some of the most common complications caused by meningitis:
FAQ # 11: How is meningitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will review your medical history and do a physical exam that includes checking for stiffness in the neck and looking for a rash that could suggest a bacterial infection.
You’ll also need to do some tests, which can include:
- Blood tests to find bacteria
- CT or MRI scans of the head to look for inflammation
- Spinal puncture (where a needle is used to collect fluid from around the spinal cord)
- Chest x-ray to look for signs of infection
Faq # 12: does meningitis go away on its own?
Mild viral meningitis usually gets better on its own within 7 to 10 days without causing long-term problems. Bacterial meningitis needs to be treated quickly with antibiotics.
FAQ # 13: Does Meningitis Require Hospitalization?
Bacterial meningitis requires immediate hospitalization. Complications of permanent neurological damage can be avoided through early detection.
FAQ # 14: Can Meningitis Cause Problems Later In Life?
Sometimes the symptoms are temporary and usually go away within a few days or weeks. However, in some situations they can become lifelong and even life threatening.
FAQ # 15: What are the long-term side effects of bacterial meningitis?
Although most people make full recovery from meningitis, it can occasionally lead to serious long-term effects, including death. Some of the long-term side effects despite recovery are:
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Photophobia (feeling unwell when looking at light)
- Dizziness and impaired balance and coordination
- Behavioral, learning, memory or intellectual deficits
Meningitis can affect anyone, any age, anywhere in the world. Early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to influenza (flu), including fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, irritability, sore throat, and decreased appetite. This makes early detection difficult. If you notice the signs and symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek medical help immediately. Checking your general health through regular checkups is also a great way to get a full picture of your wellbeing and take preventative measures if problems arise.
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