Here Are Some Facts You Should Know About Meningitis

Here Are Some Facts You Should Know About Meningitis

Meningitis symptoms are often diagnosed wrongly as flu. Here is how to identify meningitis, causes and how to prevent it from happening.

According to the New York Post, a girl lost both her legs after doctors mistook meningitis for a tummy bug. Symptoms of Meningitis can be mistaken for other diseases.

Meningitis symptoms

The symptoms of meningitis

People often mistake early symptoms of meningitis for the flu. Last month, doctors in England sent seven-year-old Brogan home because they thought she had a tummy bug. Later, the girl developed rashes that looked like bruises on her legs. Her parents had to rush her back to the hospital. Unfortunately, doctors found high levels of bacteria in her blood, which began causing her too much pain. Eventually, the doctors had to cut both of her legs.

Meningitis comes in different forms. Some can easily be treated while others may require quick medical intervention. However, if left untreated they become a very serious condition as seen with Brogan. Usually, Meningitis causes swelling around your brain, causing symptoms like a stiff neck. Early symptoms of meningitis can be mistaken for flu. Early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache and a stiff neck
  • Muscle pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Cold hands or feet and mottled skin
  • Rashes in some cases
  • Loss of appetite

Later, the patient may have serious complications if not treated quickly. Complications include:

  • Brain damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Shock
  • Memory difficulty
  • Learning disabilities
  • Walking problems
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

Furthermore, infants who have meningitis may display the following symptoms.

  • Quick breathing
  • Refusing to feed
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Excessive sleeping

Causes of meningitis

Human meningitis with the presence of Bacillus anthracis

 

To treat meningitis effectively, identifying the cause is very important. The cause determines how serious the meningitis is or might become.

  • Bacterial meningitis

This kind of meningitis is caused by bacteria. It is a dangerous form of meningitis. The bacteria responsible can enter your blood, then travel up to your spinal cord and brain. However, different kinds of bacteria can cause meningitis. Each of these bacteria attacks different age groups. Some attack infants, little children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.

  • Viral meningitis

Usually, viral meningitis isn't serious. Given time, it clears on its own. Many viruses can cause viral meningitis. They include HIV, mumps, herpes, and West Nile. All of these viruses can cause viral meningitis.

  • Fungal meningitis

Fungal meningitis is rare and serious, it is like bacterial meningitis. However, fungal meningitis doesn't spread from person to person. Usually, it attacks people who have problems with their immune system. People living with AIDS, for example.

  • Chronic meningitis

Chronic meningitis develops slowly over the length of two weeks. Typically, the fluid surrounding your brain is affected when you have chronic meningitis. The symptoms of chronic meningitis include confusion, high fever, vomiting, and headaches.

Prevention

Washing your hands ca help you prevent meningitis

To avoid getting infected with meningitis, take the following preventive measures.

  • Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly prevents germs and infections from spreading. Educate your kids on the importance of washing their hands before eating and after using the toilet. Also, show them how to thoroughly wash and rinse their hands.
  • Make your health a priority: Making your health a priority involves a few things. They include balancing your diet and exercising regularly. Staying healthy helps keep your immune system strong. Your immune system plays an important role in fighting diseases.
  • Practise good hygiene: To practise good hygiene, avoid sharing personal stuff with other people. Keep personal items personal. Do not share items like towels, cutlery, brushes, straws, etc.
  • Cover your mouth: Bacteria enter the air in different ways. When you sneeze, cover your mouth, but don't use your palm. Instead, sneeze or cough into a handkerchief or your elbow.

Risk factors

Below are risk factors for meningitis

  • Age: Age is a risk factor for meningitis. Cases of viral meningitis usually occur in children younger than 5 years. Bacterial meningitis typically attacks people under the age of 20.
  • Crowded spaces: The risk of getting meningitis increases when you're in a crowded place. This is because, in crowded places, the disease can easily spread from person to person. Crowded places include markets, boarding houses, military bases, and churches.
  • Pregnancy: When you're pregnant, you are more likely to get meningitis. As a result, this might cause you to have a miscarriage, stillbirth, or a premature baby.
  • Incomplete vaccination: Vaccination helps prevent you from getting meningitis. But to do this, you have to take a complete dose of the vaccine. Taking an incomplete dose of the vaccine still leaves you at risk of getting meningitis.

Meningitis symptoms can easily be mistaken for another disease, therefore, seek medical attention if anyone at home has symptoms like stiff neck, high fever, confusion, and headache.

Read also: Newborn gets meningitis from a contaminated breast pump

Medical Health Today

Written by

Lydia Ume