Symptoms of meningitis are like that of influenza or flu and it can develop in a few hours or few days.
The symptoms of meningitis for anyone older than 2 years of age include sudden high fever, severe headaches that are not normal, stiff neck, seizures, difficulty concentrating, difficulty walking, sleepiness, confusion, sensitivity to light, not thirsty, no appetite, and skin rash (meningococcal meningitis).
The symptoms for newborn or infants under the age of two include high fever, irritability, constant crying, excessive sleepiness, inactive, a bulge in the soft spot on top of the infant’s head, poor feeding, stiffness in the neck and body.
Some of the infants who have meningitis can be difficult to comfort and they may even cry harder if held.
Consult your doctor if you or another member of your family has symptoms such as fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, and vomiting.
You need medication because this disease can be fatal, it can cause brain damage or even death.
If you are not the one with the infection, you may still need medication in order for you not to be infected.
For bacterial meningitis: this is where the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and will go through your spinal cord and brain or if invades the membranes.
The causes of this are skull fracture after surgeries or ear and sinus infection.
Some can cause bacterial meningitis most commonly: Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus) – the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States that affect infants, children, and adults.
It can cause pneumonia and sinus or ear infection and can be prevented by a vaccine; Neisseria meningitides (meningococcus) – this bacterium can cause meningococcal meningitis if it enters the bloodstream and upper respiratory infection that affects teenagers and adults.
This is highly contagious and may cause local epidemics in school and workplace and this can be prevented by a vaccine; Haemophilus influenza (haemophilus) type b (Hib) – can affect most children but new Hib vaccines are used nowadays and as a result reduces the number of cases; Listeria monocytogenes (listeria) – this can be found in hotdogs, luncheon meats, and unpasteurized cheese.
You can get this if you have a weakened immune system and may be fatal to the unborn baby. Viral meningitis: this type of meningitis is mild and often clears on its own.
A group of viruses called enteroviruses is common in the United States that are common in late summer and early fall. Other causes of viral meningitis are HIV, West Nile virus, herpes simplex virus, and mumps.
For chronic meningitis: this type may develop within two weeks or even more and the causes of this are the fluid that surrounds your brain and slows growing organisms like Mycobacterium tuberculosis and fungi.
Fever, headache, mental cloudiness and vomiting are the symptoms of chronic meningitis. For fungal meningitis: this is uncommon and mostly causes chronic meningitis.
This type of meningitis is not contagious and the common fungal form is Cryptococcal meningitis that can affect people with immune deficiencies like that of AIDS and if not treated with an antifungal drug, can be fatal.
You can also write down your recent travel or any interactions with animals and vaccination history. Bring a family member or friend to help and support you.
Some of the questions you can ask your doctor include:
What’s likely causing my symptoms?
Is this fatal?
What tests do I need?
What treatments do I need?
Is this for a lifetime?
Am I contagious?
Do I have to be isolated?
Does my family need any preventive medication?
What can I do if this is not treated with antibiotics?
What websites do you recommend?
Your doctor will also as you some questions such as:
When did you experience the symptoms?
How severe are they?
What makes them worse?
Have you been exposed to anyone with meningitis?
What is your vaccination history?
Are you taking any immunosuppressant medications?
Do you have any other medical condition?
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination then followed by diagnostic tests such as blood cultures, your doctor will get a blood sample and placed it in a dish to look for microorganisms or bacteria, or he will put Gram’s stain and study it under a microscope; imaging tests, CT scan and MR scans to see if your head has inflammation or if it is swelling, X-ray will also show if there is an infection; spinal tap or lumbar puncture, this is done to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to check for increased white blood cell count and protein, and if you have a low sugar (glucose) level.
It can also help in finding out what kind of bacterium caused your meningitis.
Your doctor may do DNA-based known test (polymerase chain reaction) amplification if he suspects that you have viral meningitis.
The bacteria or virus that can cause meningitis can spread through kissing, sneezing, coughing and sharing things like a toothbrush.
You can also prevent meningitis with vaccinations such as Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) – a regular immunization for children that are under the age of 2, and with additional doses between the ages of 2 and 5 who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease.
Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccine – this is also part of a regular immunization starting at 2 months old and in adults who have AIDS or sickle cell disease or who doesn’t have a disease.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) – this vaccine is to be used by adults older than 65, younger adults and kids ages 2 and up, recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine – a single dose to be given to children ages 11 to 12 with a booster shot given at age 16 is recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The booster shot is recommended between the ages 16 and 18 if the vaccine is first given between the ages of 13 and 15, but if the first shot is given at age 16 no booster is necessary.
Younger kids who have been exposed to someone with this disease and at high risk of bacterial meningitis, a vaccine can also be given even as young as 9 months old.
The vaccine is also used to unvaccinated but healthy people.
You are skipping your vaccinations from childhood up to adulthood.
Your age, most common in kids younger than 5 and under the age of 20 for bacterial meningitis.
Students who are living in dormitories, boarding schools or even military bases and child care facilities are at risk of meningococcal meningitis because the bacteria spreads through large groups quickly.
If you have AIDS, diabetes or alcoholic or if you have your spleen removed you are at risk.
Pregnant women are at risk of listeriosis and may even cause stillbirth, premature delivery and miscarriage.
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