Meningitis can be either a viral or bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that protect your brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis is more common that bacterial. The disease can be life-threatening and need antibiotics or it can eventually leave your body by itself. It all depends on the severity of the infection.
Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis
The symptoms of meningitis can be very similar to symptoms associated with the flu so it can be confusing for people who are developing them. They can develop within a couple of hours or up to 2 days.
- high fever
- sore, stiff neck
- nausea or vomiting
- no concentration
- a migraine, including sensitivity to light
- sleepiness and confusion
- a rash that can be seen through a glass
- no appetite or thirst
If you are experiencing these symptoms you should get to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible. As bacterial meningitis is more serious than viral meningitis and because it develops so quickly, you have a small time frame to get treatment. The disease can be life-threatening if not treated in a timely manner.
The Causes of Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis most likely is caused by bacteria in the bloodstream that finds its way to the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria can also find its way to the brain and spinal cord through sinus or ear infections, a skull fracture, or after surgery. Streptococcus pneumoniae, neisseria meningitidis, haemophilus influenzae, or listeria monocytogenes are the most common bacterial meningitis-causing bacteria.
The risk factors that can lead to developing bacterial meningitis include not being vaccinated, being under the age of 20, and living in a setting where bacteria is easily spread such as a college dorm, or military base. Pregnancy and a compromised immune system can also increase your risk of developing bacterial meningitis.
Treatments for Bacterial Meningitis
Antibiotics administered through an IV and cortisone meds are the most common treatment type for bacterial meningitis. These can help reduce any possible risk of complications such as brain swelling or seizures. Antibiotic type is determined based on the bacterial strain that has caused the meningitis. If your infection came from a sinus or ear infection, this may be drained to remove the infection from your body as quickly as possible.
Preventing Bacterial Meningitis
Good hygiene is the best way to prevent bacterial meningitis. Washing your hands thoroughly, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, and not sharing food or drinks with others. By keeping your immune system healthy ie. exercising regularly, eating a good diet, and getting enough sleep, you reduce your risk of developing the infection. While pregnant, you should avoid unpasteurized milk and ensure all meat you consume is thoroughly cooked.
Featured Image: DepositPhotos/ sciencepics