What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is defined as swelling (inflammation) of the protective membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord. It can affect children of any age group, however, there is a maximum risk of infection in infants and young children.
What causes meningitis?
Meningitis is primarily caused by infection to the meninges by various infectious agents including bacteria (Streptococcus pneumonia, Neisseria meningitides and Haemophilus influenza), mycobacteria (tuberculosis), viruses (Herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus, influenza virus, and enterovirus), fungi or parasites. The other causes of meningitis are chemical reactions, drug-induced or malignancy-associated.
How does infection get transmitted?
The infection can spread through various routes like bloodstream and respiratory secretions. Infected people colonizing bacteria in the nose or throat spread it by sneezing, coughing and kissing. The spread of fungal or parasitic meningitis can occur from environmental sources such as inhaling soil contaminated with birds or bats droppings or by the rodents.
What are different types of meningitis?
Bacterial meningitis: Bacterial infection is one of the most common causes of meningitis, which can occur at any age. Each age group is infected by different type of bacteria. The disease can occur in isolation or can be associated with sepsis when there is a spread of infection through the bloodstream. Bacterial meningitis can be a serious, life-threatening illness if not treated in time.
Tuberculous meningitis: Tuberculous meningitis also can occur at any age and may present at times with non-specific symptoms.
Viral meningitis: Another common type of meningitis is viral meningitis, which is a less severe illness. It mostly spreads through respiratory secretions. Viral meningitis may begin with only milder flu-like symptoms of fever, headache, myalgia and fatigability.
Other types of meningitis: Fungal meningitis, parasitic meningitis, Chemical meningitis
What are the risk factors associated with meningitis?
What are the symptoms of meningitis?
The initial symptoms of meningitis are non-specific especially in the younger children and may mimic the symptoms of common flu. The symptoms may develop over hours to few days. These include:
If untreated, these children can later have altered sensorium, shock and refractory seizures. Bacterial meningitis may lead to various sequelae like hearing impairment and cognitive deficits.
Meningitis in neonates and infants usually have atypical presentation, thus making early diagnosis difficult. Therefore a high index of suspicion is always required. The symptoms may include:
Bacterial meningitis is an emergency that requires immediate medical care.
What are the complications of meningitis if not treated early?
If not treated early, meningitis can cause life-threatening complications, such as:
How is meningitis diagnosed in children?
What is the treatment for meningitis?
The treatment included acute symptomatic management and specific management depending on the type of meningitis
Acute symptomatic management:
It includes management of airway, breathing and circulation. Adequate fluids, maintenance of blood sugar levels, fever control, treatment of seizures, and management of increased pressure and swelling in the brain are of utmost value in the proper management of the illness.
What measures can be taken to prevent the occurrence of meningitis?
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