All You Need to Know about Meningitis

Main Causes

All You Need to Know about Meningitis

Main Causes

Have you ever heard about meningitis? Do you know what it is and what are all the things that are related to it? Is meningitis contagious? These are some of the common questions about meningitis. The fact of the matter is that many people are not completely aware of this disease. However, as it turns out, this is one of the most serious diseases. An acute inflammation of the meninges (the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord) is known as meningitis. As it affects the membrane that protects the brain, this disease is dangerous. According to the statistics, there were around 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis each year from 2003 to 2007, and 500 of those cases were fatal. Meningitis is a disease that is found in various parts of the world. It has many types, of which bacterial meningitis is the most common. And sometimes the symptoms vary based on the age too.

Types, causes, and symptoms of meningitis

Bacterial meningitis

  • Bacterial meningitis is caused by the bacteria that enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain and the spinal cord. This can also happen if the bacteria invade the meninges directly.
  • The causes for this are skull fracture, an ear or sinus infection, and sometimes surgeries.
  • The symptoms in this type of meningitis usually develop suddenly. Altered mental status, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, irritability, headache, fever, chills, stiff neck, drowsiness, and lethargy are some of the symptoms of bacterial meningitis.
  • One should seek immediate medical attention if he or she notices any of the above symptoms as bacterial and another type of meningitis called viral meningitis can be very dangerous and lethal.

Viral meningitis

  • Viral meningitis is mild in nature and mostly clears on its own. Most of the cases of this disease in the country are due to a group of viruses named enteroviruses.
  • These viruses are common in the early fall season and in the late summer.
  • In infants, the symptoms are irritability, decreased appetite, drowsiness, lethargy, and fever.
  • In adults, the symptoms are headaches, fever, stiff neck, seizures, sensitivity to bright light, sleepiness, lethargy, nausea, and vomiting

Chronic meningitis

  • Chronic meningitis is caused by slow-growing organisms (like fungi) that invade the membranes and fluids that surround the brain.
  • This disease develops over a period of two weeks or more.
  • The symptoms of chronic meningitis are fever, headaches, vomiting, and mental cloudiness.

Fungal meningitis

  • Fungal meningitis is uncommon. It causes chronic meningitis.
  • At times, fungal meningitis may mimic acute bacterial meningitis. People who are suffering from immune deficiencies such as AIDS are sometimes affected by cryptococcal meningitis.
  • The symptoms resemble other types of infections as well. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, fever, headache, and confusion.
  • If not treated with antifungal medication, it can be life-threatening.

The symptoms of both viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis are mostly similar in the beginning. However, the symptoms of bacterial meningitis tend to be more severe.

Brief understanding of the cause and the contagiousness of meningitis
Meningitis is a disease that’s found in many people throughout the world. What are the causes of it? Is meningitis contagious? These are the questions that are asked quite very frequently.

Let’s know the answers for them.

  • The cause for each type of this disease is just a little different.
  • However, the common thing is that in all the cases, the root cause would be the same. In the sense, a bacterium, virus, or a parasite spread through the bloodstream. This is how it manages to reach the brain or the spinal cord.
  • After reaching the brain or the spinal cord, the respective factor will set up in the lining of the membrane or in the fluids that surround these vital parts. From there on, it develops into a more advanced infection.
  • One exception for this is non-infectious meningitis that is the result of a physical injury or some other condition.
  • Another thing is that only viral meningitis is contagious.

What about the treatment?
Now, when we are aware of the causes and symptoms of meningitis, the very next natural question cropping up in our mind is that whether there is any treatment for it or not?

  • The treatment for meningitis depends on the cause.
  • In the case of bacterial meningitis, immediate hospitalization is required. If it is diagnosed early, brain damage and death can be prevented. It is treated with intravenous antibiotics, which depend on the bacteria involved.
  • In the case of fungal meningitis, treatment is carried out using antifungal agents
  • In the case of parasitic meningitis, only the treatment of the symptoms or the infection directly is carried out.
  • The treatment of viral meningitis is mostly only supportive. As per the need of the patient, rest, pain or anti-inflammatory medications, hydration, and antipyretics may be given.

Is meningitis contagious?
The contagiousness of meningitis is related to the specific agent that causes the disease. Most bacterial meningitis infections are mildly or moderately contagious person to person. While some viral meningitis are contagious, other types are not. Fungal, non-infectious, and parasitic causes of meningitis are not contagious from one person to another directly.