Meningitis involves inflammation of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is generally brought about by a bacterial or viral infection.
Prompt diagnosis and proper identification of the cause is vital since treatment is aimed on the seriousness of the symptoms and root cause.
What are the indications?
The indications of meningitis might manifest over hours or worsen after several days. The condition is prevalent among children, but adolescents and adults can develop it as well.
The usual signs include:
- Intense headache where the mild or moderate ones are the early signs
- Light sensitivity with headache
- Rigid neck where children might arch back the head or complain of discomfort when bending the head towards the chest
- Fever that ranges from low to high-grade
- Sleepiness or fatigue
- Irritability and restlessness
- Rashes, usually non-blanching
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in the mental status such as lethargy, confusion, hallucinations, delirium or even coma
Among infants and newborns, they do not have these distinctive signs of meningitis but might experience the following:
- Excessive tiredness
- Poor appetite
- Bulging of the soft spot on the skull or fontanel
Management of meningitis
The treatment for meningitis is based on the cause and seriousness of the condition. Drugs might be necessary to treat the infection but also lessen the inflammation and control the symptoms.
- Regardless of the root cause, pain medications are necessary to lessen the headaches and discomfort in the neck. The drugs that lessen fever are also given as well. In most cases, over-the-counter medications are effective in most cases.
- For the bacterial form, treatment must be started early. In most cases, the treatment starts with a combination of intravenous broad-spectrum antibiotics.
- For the viral form, the treatment involves supportive care.
- In case the condition is caused by an autoimmune disease, steroids might be given to lessen the inflammation.