The numerous signs and symptoms of meningitis can vary depending on the age and overall health of the person affected, as well as the type of infection that has caused the condition. Some of the more common signs and symptoms of meningitis in adults include:
• Fever and chills
• Stiff neck
• Sensitivity to light
• Nausea and vomiting
• Skin rash
• Confusion and disorientation
In infants and young children, the signs and symptoms of meningitis may include:
• High fever
• Poor feeding
• Excessive sleepiness or difficulty waking up
• Stiffness or rigidity in the body or neck
• Bulging fontanelles (soft spots on the head)
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing meningitis. These include:
• Age: Infants, young children, and adolescents usually are more prone to develop meningitis.
• Weakened immune system: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy, are at an
increased risk of developing meningitis.
• Exposure to bacteria: Exposure to certain bacteria can cause meningitis, such as Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae, can increase
the risk of developing the condition.
• Living in close quarters: Living in close quarters, such as in dormitories or military barracks, can increase the risk .
• Head Trauma: Head injuries or trauma to the skull can increase the risk of developing meningitis.
Meningitis can be diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, medical history, and laboratory tests. The doctor will perform a physical examination to check for signs of infection, such as fever, stiff neck, and rash. They may also ask about symptoms, medical history, and recent exposure to others with meningitis.
Laboratory tests may include:
• Blood tests: To check for signs of infection and inflammation.
• Lumbar puncture: A small sample of cerebrospinal fluid is taken from the lower back and analyzed for signs of infection.
• Imaging tests: CT or MRI scans may be performed to check for signs of swelling or inflammation in the brain or spinal cord.
The kind of medical treatment for meningitis will depend on the type of infection that has caused it. Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics, while viral meningitis is typically treated with supportive care to manage symptoms. Fungal meningitis may require antifungal medication.
In addition to medication, treatment for meningitis may include:
• Hospitalization: Most people with meningitis require hospitalization for close monitoring and treatment.
• Intravenous fluids: To maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.
• Oxygen therapy: To ensure adequate oxygen levels in the blood.
• Corticosteroids: These type of drugs may be given to reduce inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.
Several measures can be taken to prevent meningitis, such as:
• Vaccination: There are vaccines available to protect against some of the most common bacterial causes of meningitis, including Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
• Hand washing: Frequent and proper hand washing can help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that can cause meningitis.
• Avoiding close contact with infected individuals: Meningitis can be spread through respiratory and throat secretions, so avoiding contact with
infected individuals can help prevent the spread of the infection.
• Maintaining a healthy immune system: Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can help maintain a healthy immune
system and thus reduce the risk of developing meningitis.
• Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing: This can help prevent the spread of respiratory infections that can be a cause of
Meningitis can lead to several health complications, especially if it is not diagnosed and treated early. Some possible complications include:
• Septicemia: A bacterial infection in the blood that can cause sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition.
• Brain damage: Inflammation in the brain can cause permanent damage, including cognitive and neurological impairments.
• Hearing loss: Meningitis can cause hearing loss, particularly in children.
• Vision loss: In rare cases, meningitis can lead to blindness.
• Hydrocephalus: An accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, which can cause swelling and brain damage.
• Seizures: Meningitis can cause seizures, particularly in children.