Meningitis – Symptoms, Treatment

Meningitis is the disease which happens when the meninges get inflamed. Meninges is the membrane which covers the spinal cord and the brain. People mostly get meningitis from viral infections and they get generally, do not require any treatment. However, meningitis caused by bacterial infection is very serious, and can cause brain damage or death, even if the person is given the best of treatment. It can also be caused by the following:

  • Drug allergies
  • Chemical irritation
  • Tumors
  • Fungi

Symptoms:

The symptoms of the patient depend on the cause and also, the patient’s age. The symptoms can easily be mistaken for flu because of the similarity between them. It is very important for this disease to be identified right at the initial stage, especially if it is bacterial meningitis. The symptoms follow a random manner because they can either manifest themselves very early or many days after the person has suffered from a bad cold. The main symptoms are:

  • Cold with a runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Some of the other symptoms are as follows:

  • Decreased consciousness or lethargy
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Stiff neck
  • Photophobia or eyes which are very sensitive to light.
  • Seizures
  • Skin rashes

Infants have other symptoms like:

  • Neck rigidity
  • Jaundice
  • Poor feeding
  • Lower or higher body temperature than the accepted range
  • Crying in a high pitch voice
  • Weak suck
  • Bulging fontanelles

In most cases, the disease completes its course in seven to ten days without any lasting or severe damage to the patient.

Treatment:

The most important advice that one can give is to visit the doctor and take his expert opinion. The doctor generally gets some tests done which enables him to determine the location and cause of the infection. He can also get to know whether it is of viral or bacterial origin. Although a person suffering from viral meningitis should be hospitalized, some children who do not suffer any serious symptoms can also recuperate at home. Some of the treatments are:

  • Sufficient rest
  • Lots of fluid intake
  • Pain medication

Doctors generally start intravenous drip at the earliest to replenish the fluids which have been lost due to sweating, vomiting, fever etc.