Meningitis

Meningitis is a serious disease that causes the global death of about 1,000 people every day. It most often affects the younger population, and there is a possibility that it can occur in older people. People who suffer from a chronic illness or have a weakened immune system have an increased risk of developing meningitis.

WHAT IS MENINGITIS AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that line the brain. This disease is most often the result of an infection that can reach the lining of the brain through the bloodstream or from surrounding structures (paranasal sinuses, middle ear, etc.). It is an extremely contagious disease that can be transmitted through dirty hands, coughing, sneezing or close contact. Depending on the type of microorganism that causes the infection, we distinguish:

-Viral meningitis. Most cases of meningitis are the result of a viral infection. This type of meningitis has milder symptoms and can resolve without treatment.
-Bacterial meningitis. The most common causes of this type of meningitis are the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae and Listeria monocytogenes. After being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, it is advisable to start treatment immediately, as it can cause significant damage to brain tissue and end in death.
-Fungal meningitis. It is a rare type of meningitis which, unlike the previous two, is not transmitted
from person to person.
In addition to infections, there are other causes of meningitis, such as some types of cancer, sarcoidosis, allergies to certain drugs and the like.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF MENINGITIS?

The following symptoms and signs occur in children over 2 years and in adults with meningitis:
-Stiff neck;
-Photophobia (hypersensitivity to light);
-Severe headache;
-Nausea and vomiting;
-High temperature;
-Drowsiness;
-Decreased appetite;
-Convulsions;
-Disorder of consciousness;
-Skin rash.

In newborns and children up to 2 years of age, the classic signs and symptoms may be absent, so meningitis is manifested by:Fever;
-Constant crying;
-Decreased appetite;
-Stiff neck or body;
-Swelling / bulging in the area of the large fontanelle;
-Excessive sleep;
-Irritability;
-Reduced activity;
-Drowsiness;

WHAT ARE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS?
The longer the disease lasts, the greater the risk of meningitis complications such as:

-Hearing impairment;
-Shock;
-Kidney damage;
-Epilepsy;
-Speech problems;
-Cerebral palsy;
-Vision impairment;
-Cognitive disorders;
-Death.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
-Blood tests. Laboratory and microbiological blood tests help make the diagnosis.
-RTG and CT. In order to detect whether infection is present in other structures near the brain tissue, imaging tests such as X-rays or computed tomography are used.
-Lumbar puncture. To make a definitive diagnosis, a lumbar puncture is needed. It is a procedure that takes a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. The analysis of this fluid shows what type of meningitis it is.

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