What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes or coverings of the brain. The brain has 3 membranes or coverings to protect itself and these membranes are collectively known as ‘Meninges’. Meningitis means inflammations of the Meninges. The reason for the inflammation may be virus, bacteria, parasites, genetics and or a weak immune system.

Whom does Meningitis affect?

Meningitis can affect humans with low immunity or a weak immune system. As children have a weak immune system, they may be the likely victims of Meningitis. The transmission of the virus or bacteria is usually is due to any bodily defects like a fracture in the skull. The other reason may be genetic. Nearly 60% of Meningitis is due to anatomical defects and 40% due to weak immune system of the body.

Some adults are also at risk.

What are the causes of Meningitis?

The causes of Meningitis are: Virus or Bacteria. Viral Meningitis is caused by Virus. Bacterial Meningitis is caused by Bacteria.

The source of transmission may be external through any bodily defects like fracture in the skull or inherited because of a weak immune system. Meningitis is contagious and can spread by the droplets from nose and mouth of an infected person.

What are the signs and symptoms of Meningitis?

The common signs and symptoms of Meningitis are:

  • Stiffness and pain in the neck.
  • Fever
  • Headache and vomiting
  • Always feeling sleepy
  • Seizures

Other symptoms in babies may include:

  • Refusal to eat, crying, rash
  • Young children may feel flu like symptoms with breathing difficulties
  • Adults may have headache and fever

If there are other underlying conditions then the symptoms may be different.

How is Meningitis diagnosed?

The viral type is less severe and bacterial meningitis is severe. So first of all, the doctor has to determine the type of infection. The doctor may start by asking you about the symptoms and the medical and family history. Various blood tests, CT Scan and MRI Scan may be advised.

The more accurate test is the Lumbar test where a small amount of the cerebro-spinal fluid is collected for a lab test to see the type and the cause of Meningitis.

Can Meningitis be prevented?

Vaccination or Immunization is the best way to prevent the occurrence of Meningitis. Some other causes of Meningitis can be reduced by vaccines like MMR and Hib vaccine, and vaccine for chicken pox given to children at recommended intervals.

Mothers Milk is the best food for infants and boosts the immune system of infants and helps them fight diseases. Avoiding people with Meningitis as it is contagious.

If one is a care giver then maintain good hygiene.

Get yourself vaccinated or immunized if travelling to high risk places and keep away from rodents and insects which may carry Meningitis germs.

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