What is meningitis?
The human body contains a central nervous system, which includes spinal cord and brain. A membrane called meninges surrounds the spinal cord and brain of a human and this membrane act as a protection to the central nervous system. Sometimes certain virus or bacteria infect this memebrane, which causes inflammation of this membrane, which is termed as meningitis.
What are the types of meningitis?
Meningitis is caused by a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Infection of the meninges by bacteria called as bacterial meningitis whereas infection by a virus leads to viral meningitis. Infection by tuberculosis or fungal meningitis leads to long and prolonged infection and is called as chronic meningitis. Some times meningitis can occur due to reaction to drugs for e.g. reaction to anticancer drugs can lead to chemical meningitis. Cancer itself can lead to damage in the meninges.
How does meningitis occur?
Human beings have an inbuilt immune system, which fights any kind of threat to our health. It is surprising to know that we might have already come in contact with some of these germs that cause meningitis, but due to our immune system, they are destroyed in their earlier stages. Occasionally our immune system gets defeated and these bacteria or viruses may attack the meninges causing inflammation.
Is meningitis dangerous?
Though not all types of meningitis are life-threatening, it becomes important to identify them for an immediate medical attention. The reason for this urgency is that a normal person might not make out whether it is life threatening meningitis or not at early stages and a doctor or a trained nurse would be the right person to identify.
Viral meningitis usually lasts only for sometime and the affected person recovers from it usually. Doctor may advise complete bed rest. Bacterial meningitis is dangerous, and lack of immediate attention can also cause death in some cases. Bacterial meningitis is caused by number of bacteria and the most common are meningococcus, pneumococcus, listeria and haemophilus. Tuberculous meningitis and fungal meningitis can lead to life-threatening events and even disability and fits in due course.
What are the symptoms of meningitis?
The symptoms of meningitis are
Headache for a prolonged period especially
headache on getting up or headache that wakes you up from sleep
Confused state of mind
Feeling to stay away from light (photophobia).
Is meningitis contagious?
All types of meningitis are not contagious. Meningococcal meningitis is considered to be contagious for people in close proximity.
Can meningitis be prevented?
There are vaccines available that help to immunize against certain bacteria that causes meningitis but they don't cover all groups. Thus one can give vaccines for pneumococcus, H influenza B (HIB) and meningococcus. However they protect only against certain types of these germs.
Last updated on 01-07-2008