Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the three membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can occur when fluid surrounding the meninges becomes infected.
• Bacterial meningitis
The bacteria that cause meningitis can spread when people who are infected cough or sneeze.
• Viral meningitis
It is more common than the bacterial form and generally-but not always-less serious. A number of viruses can trigger the disease.
• Fungal meningitis
This type is much less common than the bacterial or viral forms. Healthy people rarely get it. You are more likely to get this form of meningitis if you have a problem with your immune system, like AIDS.
• Parasitic meningitis
This type is also rare. It is caused by parasites that usually affect animals. You can get it from eating animals like Snails, slugs, snakes, fish or poultry that are infected by parasites. The risk is higher with raw or undercooked foods. You can’t pass on this type to other people.
• Amoebic meningitis
It is a rare, usually fatal infection a single-celled bug called Naegleria fowleri. People typically get it from swimming in water where the amoeba lives, not drinking it. This type is not contagious.
• Non-infectious meningitis
This type is caused by diseases like lupus or cancer, as if you have had a head injury, brain surgery, or take certain medications. It is not contagious.
• Chronic meningitis
It has similar symptoms as acute meningitis, but develops over a couple of weeks. It results from infections with a fungus or the mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis.These organisms get into the tissue and fluid surrounding your brain to cause this problem.
Early symptoms may mimic the flu symptoms. These may develop over several hours or over a few days.
Possible sign and symptoms in anyone older than the age of 2 include –
• Sudden high fever
• Severe headache that seems different from normal
• Headache with nausea or vomiting
• Stiff neck
• Sleepiness or difficulty waking
• Sensitivity to light
• No appetite or thirst
• Skin rash
Signs in newborns
• High fever
• Constant crying
• A bulge in the soft spot on top of a boby’s head
• Stiffness in the body and neck
• Not waking to eat
• Poor feeding
• Inactivity or sluggishness
• Difficulty waking from sleep
• Excessive sleepiness or irritability
Each type of this condition has a slightly different cause, but each ultimately acts in the same way : A bacterium, fungus, virus or parasite spreads through the bloodstream until it reaches the brain or spinal cord. There, it sets up in the lining or fluids around these vital body parts and starts developing into a more advanced infection.
Non-infectious type is the result of a physical injury or other condition, it doesn’t involve an infection.
Risk Factors –
• Skipping vaccinations
Risk arises for anyone who hasn’t completed the recommended childhood or adult vaccination schedule.
• Living in a community setting
College students living in dormitories, personnel on military bases, and children in boarding schools and child care facilities are at greater risk of meningococcal meningitis.
• Compromised immune system
AIDS, alcoholism, diabetes, use of immunosuppressant drugs and other factors that affect your immune system also make you more sus susceptible to meningitis. Having your spleen removed also increases your risk.
Most cases of viral meningitis occur in children younger then age 5. Bacterial meningitis is common in those under age 20.
Pregnancy increases the risk of listeriosis – an infection caused by listeria bacteria, which may cause this disease.
The longer you or your child has the disease without treatment, the greater the risk of seizures and permanent neurological damage, including –
• Hearing loss
• Brain damage
• Gait problems
• Learning disabilities
• Memory difficulty
• Kidney failure
Along with physical examination of the patient, there are some common tests need to be done to confirm the diagnosis. Those tests includes –
• Blood cultures
• Complete blood count
• Chest X-rays
• CT scan
• Lumbar puncture or spinal tap
While viral meningitis is more common, bacterial meningitis can be more dangerous if it’s not diagnosed and treated quickly.
For that reason, the two primary vaccines for meningitis are for bacterial causes.
The first vaccine, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, features a vaccine that targets four of the most common types of bacterial serotypes.
The second vaccine, MenB, targets one specific strain, and its protection window is much shorter.
The treatment depends on the type of meningitis you or your child has.
Acute bacterial meningitis must be treated immediately with intravenous antibiotics and sometimes corticosteroids. The antibiotic or combination of antibiotics depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Your doctor may recommend a broad-spectrum antibiotic until he or she can determine the exact cause of meningitis.
Antibiotics can’t cause viral meningitis, and most cases improve on their own in several weeks. Treatment of mild cases of viral meningitis usually includes –
• Bed rest
• Plenty of fluids
• Over-the-counter pain medications to help reduce fever and relieve body aches
• Corticosteroids can be prescribed to reduce swelling in the brain and anticonvulsant medication to control seizures.
• If a herpes virus causes meningitis, an antiviral medication is available.
If the cause of your meningitis is unknown, your doctor may start antiviral and antibiotic treatment while the cause is determined.
Antifungal medications treat fungal meningitis, and a combination of specific antibiotics can treat tuberculous meningitis.
Non infectious meningitis due to allergic reaction or autoimmune disease may be treated with corticosteroids.
In some cases, no treatment may be required because the condition can resolve on its own.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
The Ayurvedic perspective on this disease says that the inflammation in the brain occurs due to a kapha aggravation, while an aggravated pitta is responsible for the accompanying fever. It can be correlated with one of the 13 types of Sannipataja Jwara.
• Mahasudarshan Churna
• Jaimangal Ras
• Sanshamni Vati
• Sanjivani Vati
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