What Are The Main Causes And Symptoms Of Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infectious disease that affects the protective membranes around your brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. The symptoms of meningitis may include stiff neck, headache, fever, nausea, seizures, vomiting, fatigue and confusion.

The most serious complication of meningitis is a condition called bacterial meningitis which occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. This leads to swelling in the brain, inflammation, and ultimately damage to the brain tissue. If left untreated, this can lead to long-term neurological problems such as memory loss and speech difficulties.

If you have been diagnosed with meningitis, here are some things to consider:

What causes meningitis?

Meningitis is caused by one of three different types of pathogens: viruses, bacteria or fungi. Viruses are usually spread through direct contact with other people affected by the virus or contaminated items (such as towels or bedding). Bacteria are usually spread through contact with infected materials like food, water or soil. Fungi cause the majority of infections in children under 5 years old.

Most common types of meningitis include:

  Acute viral meningitis –

caused by a type of respiratory virus such as adenovirus, coxsackie virus and echoviruses. Symptoms usually last for 1-2 weeks and there is no permanent damage to the nervous system. In rare cases, acute viral meningitis can become chronic and affect the development of the nervous system.

  Pneumococcal meningitis –

caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus). This bacterium is responsible for about half of all cases of bacterial meningitis. As with most forms of meningitis, it is often acquired through close contact with another person who has contracted the infection.

  Bacterial meningitis –

also known as purulent meningitis, is caused by a Streptococcus bacteria or Neisseria meningitidis (Nm). Symptoms may be mild and self-limiting if treated early but can quickly turn into a life threatening condition if not caught early enough.

  Cryptococcal meningitis –

a fungal infection of the central nervous system caused by cryptococcus neoformans. This fungus is usually found in soil and bird droppings.

In addition to these, there are several types of parasitic infections that can cause meningitis. These include:

  Toxoplasmosis –

caused by Toxoplasma gondii. Infection can occur during pregnancy, especially in women with weak immune systems. If infection occurs before birth, the unborn baby could develop severe health problems including blindness, deafness and mental retardation.

  Leishmaniasis –

this is a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through sand flies. Symptoms include fever, headaches, skin rashes and enlarged lymph nodes.

  Malaria –

this is caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Malaria spreads via mosquito bites and can result in symptoms similar to those of flu. Symptoms include high fever, chills, weakness, vomiting and seizures.

It’s important to note that meningitis isn’t always accompanied by any obvious signs or symptoms. You can find out more information on the symptoms of meningitis below.

Signs and symptoms of meningitis

A number of symptoms can indicate that you are suffering from meningitis. However, some individuals don’t experience any symptoms at all, while others will only notice slight changes in their state of mind or physical appearance.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  Headache –

this can be described as a dull ache in the head which may be constant or come and go. Headaches can be accompanied by dizziness or light sensitivity.

  Stiff neck –

this is particularly noticeable in infants who will often experience stiffness in the back of their necks.

  Fever –

this can be very high or low depending on the severity of the infection. Fever is usually accompanied by chills and sweating.

  Vomiting –

this is quite common in patients with meningitis and may be associated with convulsions. Vomiting may also be related to dehydration.

  Seizures –

these can vary in intensity and frequency and are often accompanied by loss of consciousness.

  Confusion –

this can be due to a lack of oxygen reaching the brain and causing temporary impairment of function. Confusion may also be associated with a feeling of being drowsy.

Other symptoms include:

  Sensitivity to light and sound

  Decreased movement and coordination

  Increased irritability

  Poor appetite

  Lethargy

  Weakness

  Drowsiness

  Restlessness

  Depression

  Pain

You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms as they can be dangerous and potentially fatal without immediate treatment. Some of the more extreme symptoms may require hospitalization and treatment.

Here we have told you everything about bacterial meningitis and after reading this you will get to know about it. Reading this article will eventually help you as with the help of this you will be able to expand your knowledge regarding this disease. So at last we would suggest you to read it very carefully and gather every single information about it.

Written by 

Isabel Miller is the prime contributor at theeggs.biz. She graduated from the University of San Carlos in 2015.