Meningitis is an acute inflammation of the meninges which are protective membranes around the brain and the spinal cord. The two most common kind of meningitis are viral and bacterial. It is believed that this disease was prevalent even during the time of Hippocrates.
In adults the most common symptom is headache. Other symptoms might include
- High fever, usually sudden
- Stiffness of neck
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Sleepiness and lethargy
- Decreased appetite
- Altered consciousness
A number of other symptoms can also be seen in young children, like increased irritability, pain in the legs, abnormally cold extremities, a changed skin colour and a swelling or bulging of the soft spot of a baby’s head.
Meningitis is an infection of the meninges which commonly occurs when the fluids surrounding the meninges gets infected. Mostly the infection is viral or bacterial. It can also be fungal or parasitic. It is also commonly caused in persons suffering from autoimmune disorders.
There is also a non contagious form of meningitis which can be caused due to cancer spreading to meninges, reaction to certain drugs, certain kinds of inflammatory diseases and rarely, migraine
Meningitis is a life threatening disease. If left untreated, it could result in brain damage and death. Even a delay in treatment is potentially fatal. 10% of the patients of bacterial meningitis die from a delay in treatment.
The most definitive way to identify meningitis is by a study of the cerebrospinal fluid via lumbar puncture. CT or MRI scans are also performed at later stages to assess complications. After diagnosis, immediate medical care and hospitalization may reduce the c
Several forms of meningitis is highly contagious and spreads through the air by coughing, sneezing or even close contact. People living in community living should get themselves vaccinated while people who have been in close quarters with patients of contagious meningitis should consider prophylactic antibiotics to prevent getting infected.