What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by an infection.

The infection occurs most often in children, adolescents and young people. Older people, as well as those with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems, are also at risk.

Meningitis can be divided into several varieties depending on the causative agent:

  1. Viral meningitis: This type of meningitis is more common and usually milder than bacterial meningitis. Symptoms may include headache, high fever, itchy skin, fatigue, and more.

  2. Bacterial meningitis: This type of meningitis is more serious and requires immediate treatment with antibiotics. Symptoms can include headache, severe muscle pain, high fever, disturbances in consciousness and can even lead to death if not treated in time.

What are the causes of meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious disease that can be caused by a variety of factors and can have serious health consequences for those affected.< /p>

  1. Viruses: Viral meningitis is one of the most common types of meningitis. This type of meningitis is caused by various viruses, such as influenza viruses, varicella-zoster viruses, enteroviruses, etc. Viruses are transmitted through droplets from the secretions of the nose and throat, and are often spread by coughing and sneezing.

  2. Bacteria: Bacterial meningitis is less common but usually more serious and dangerous than viral meningitis. It can be caused by bacteria such as Neisseria meningitidis (meningococci), Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci), and Haemophilus influenzae type b. These bacteria are spread through contact with infectious secretions or droplets from the sneezes and coughs of infected people.

  3. Other organisms: Meningitis can rarely be caused by other organisms, such as fungi or protozoa. These cases are much rarer and usually occur in individuals with a significantly weakened immune system.

  4. Medications: Some medications, including certain antibiotics and illegal drugs, can cause meningitis as a side effect. However, these cases are extremely rare and are usually observed in individuals with specific sensitivities to the relevant substances.

Meningitis is a contagious disease and is transmitted from person to person through droplets from the secretions of the nose and throat, which are spread by coughing, sneezing or close contact with an infected person .

This makes it important to follow hygiene measures such as washing hands, avoiding close contact with infected people and getting vaccinated where possible to protect against different types of meningitis.

What are the symptoms?

The most typical symptoms in adolescents and young people are:

  • Stiffness of neck and great pain when trying to touch chin to chest.
  • Fever;
  • Headache;
  • Vomiting;
  • Convulsions;
  • Insomnia.

In children, adults and people with other diseases, the symptoms of meningitis are different:

  • Babies may refuse to eat. They can also get a rash and start crying when, for example, the mother picks them up.
  • Young children show flu-like symptoms. Coughing or having trouble breathing.
  • Older people and those with chronic illnesses have a fever and headache.

It is very important to see a doctor immediately if these symptoms are present. Only a doctor can determine whether meningitis is viral or bacterial. Bacterial meningitis can be fatal if not treated immediately.

Treatment of meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is treated in hospital with antibiotics. You may also be injected with dexamethasone, a type of steroid medication, at the hospital.

But viral meningitis is more common and usually most people with this form of the disease get better after about 2 weeks. In milder cases, doctors prescribe home treatment to their patients.

To speed up your recovery at home with viral meningitis, you can take the following measures:

  • Get some rest to relieve some symptoms such as headaches.
  • Watch for signs of complications. The most common complications are: fever lasting longer than expected and seizures.
  • To reduce fever – cold compresses on the forehead, cool baths and medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used. use to lower the temperature if necessary.
  • To prevent hydration – drink extra fluids – water, juices, teas and other rehydrating drinks.

How to protect ourselves?

Check with your doctor if you or your child needs the meningococcal vaccine, which is given to prevent bacterial meningitis.

Such a vaccine is recommended for:

  • Adolescents aged 11 or 12. A revaccination is also required at age 16;
  • Young people age 21 and younger who have not yet been vaccinated.
  • People who plan to travel to countries with known outbreaks of meningitis such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • People who who do not have a spleen.
  • And those with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.

Most people need revaccination every 5 years. To prevent the development of meningitis and to protect yourself and your community, it is important to be informed about the causes, modes of transmission and how to protect yourself from this serious disease.

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