It is known as meningitis the inflammation of the membrane lining the brain and spinal cord . Generally, it occurs as a result of a viral or bacterial infection. Meningitis caused by a certain virus is mild and in many cases it is cured without the need for any specific treatment. However, bacterial meningitis can be very serious and cause irreversible brain damage.
In practically all cases, meningitis occurs in healthy people , who do not have any type of chronic disease. It is a disease that mainly affects children between zero and nine years old; It can also be given to adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19. Regarding the prognosis, it is less favorable in those children under three years of age.
How is it transmitted?
The meningococcus is one of the bacteria most often results in meningitis. Well, this bacterium is transmitted through contact with an infected person; transmission occurs through droplets that are expelled by coughing or sneezing. Thus, the virus enters the body through the eyes, nose or mouth . The incubation period ranges from two to ten days.
Meningitis risk factors
There are a number of factors that dramatically increase your chances of developing meningitis.
- Vaccines: in both children and adults it is essential to strictly follow the vaccination schedule.
- Age: although this condition can occur in people of all ages, in the vast majority of cases it occurs in children under five years of age.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at high risk for listeriosis , an infection that can lead to meningitis.
- Weak immune system: this disease occurs more frequently in those whose immune system is weakened; that is, people with HIV or other conditions such as diabetes .
Causes of meningitis
In almost 100% of patients, the cause of this disease is a viral or bacterial infection.
Viral meningitis in the vast majority of cases is a mild condition , which does not require any type of treatment. It is usually caused by a group of viruses called enteroviruses, which are more frequent during the first weeks of autumn.
This type of meningitis occurs when bacteria come into contact with the bloodstream and reach the brain and spinal cord. It can also originate when a certain bacterium affects the meninges due to an ear infection or a skull fracture, among other possible cases. The bacteria that most often cause meningitis are as follows.
- Pneumomoco: This is the type of bacteria that causes the highest number of meningitis in babies and children. Pneumomocus leads to conditions of the respiratory system , such as pneumonia; ear infection is also common.
- Meningococcus: another of the bacteria that can lead to bacterial meningitis. This causes an infection in the upper respiratory tract, and when it comes into contact with blood it can cause meningitis. It occurs especially in adolescents.
- Listeria: This type of bacteria is contracted through the consumption of certain foods, such as unpasteurized cheeses or processed meats. It is especially critical in pregnant women as it significantly increases the risk of miscarriage.
Fungi have a slow growth process in the body, so that they gradually invade the membranes and fluid around the brain , thus causing what is known as chronic meningitis. The symptoms of this condition occur for a period of more than two weeks and include severe headaches, fever , dizziness and vomiting.
Symptoms of meningitis
One of the main problems with meningitis is that the initial symptoms of the disease are practically the same as those of a flu ; This is the reason why the vast majority of patients do not seek medical assistance until the condition is in a more advanced stage and leads to serious symptoms such as: sudden high fever for no apparent reason, stiff neck, very severe headache, difficulty with both attention and concentration, sensitivity to light, poor appetite and drowsiness.
In the case of babies, the symptoms of meningitis are the following: high fever, constant and different crying than usual, excessive drowsiness and stiffness in both the body and the neck.
Diagnosis and treatment
As we have pointed out, before the slightest symptom of meningitis it is important to see a doctor. This first takes a clinical history based on the symptoms described and whether or not the patient has a previous chronic disease. He then proceeds with a physical examination.
To confirm the diagnosis of the disease, it is necessary to perform a lumbar puncture , which shows a purulent cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This liquid must be analyzed in the laboratory; Sometimes the bacteria causing the disease can be observed in the microscopic examination of the CSF, which greatly facilitates the establishment of the appropriate treatment.
If it is a viral meningitis, in a large number of cases no treatment is required; the disease goes away on its own without causing further problems. If the cause of the disease is bacteria, the patient must be admitted and subjected to intensive treatment through the administration of antibiotics and other medications.
Tips to prevent meningitis
The viruses that cause meningitis are sometimes transmitted through the air or through physical contact. Therefore, there are a number of tips that are worth taking into account to reduce as much as possible the chances of suffering from this disease.
- Hygiene: As with other conditions such as the flu, hygiene is essential to prevent meningitis. It is very important to wash your hands frequently, especially after spending a long period of time in public places, as well as being in contact with animals.
- Healthy lifestyle habits: it is essential to do physical exercise frequently, as well as to eat a balanced and healthy diet, with a relatively high consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Pregnant women: If there is one population group that should pay special attention to meningitis prevention advice, it is pregnant women. It is important to cook meat at a temperature above 80ºC to greatly reduce the risk of listeriosis; In addition, it is advisable to avoid those cheeses made with unpasteurized milk.
At the slightest symptom of those described above in relation to meningitis, it is important to see a doctor. The longer a person goes without receiving adequate treatment for this condition, the risk of suffering from any type of complication increases significantly.
The complications of meningitis go through irreversible neurological damage, such as memory problems, total or partial loss of hearing, brain damage or motor problems.
Mortality or sequelae due to this condition depends on several factors, such as the bacteria that cause meningitis , as well as the age of the patient and the stage of the disease in which the disease has been detected. If treated properly and in the initial phase, mortality is less than 10% .
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.