Meningitis: types, symptoms and treatment

Meningitis: types, symptoms and treatment



  • 1 What is Meningitis?
  • 2 What causes meningitis?
  • 3 Symptoms of meningitis
  • 4 Treatment of meningitis

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is an infectious disease that causes inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

The meninges is the name used for the three membranes that surround the brain Y spinal cord (central nervous system), called dura mater, arachnoid and pia mater. The main function of the meninges together with the cerebrospinal fluid is protect the central nervous system.

What causes meningitis?

In most cases The main cause of meningitis is a viral infection, but it can also be caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites or medications. Anatomical defects or a weakened immune system may be behind recurrent meningitis.

Viral meningitis

Although viral meningitis is the most common, it is rarely a serious infection. It can be caused by a number of different viruses, some of them are transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no specific treatment for this type of meningitis. In the vast majority of cases the disease resolves within a week without any complications.

Bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is usually a serious infection.. It is caused by three types of bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Meningitis caused byNeisseria meningitidis it is known as meningococcal meningitis, while meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae it is known as pneumococcal meningitis. People become infected when they are in close contact with the secretions of the nose or throat of an infected person.

Thanks to the new vaccines, the incidence of bacterial meningitis in children has decreased substantially.

Up to 59% of cases of recurrent meningitis are due to anatomical defects, while 36% are due to weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of meningitis

Meningitis is not always easy to recognize. In many cases of meningitis it may be progressing without any visible symptoms. In its early stages, the symptoms may be similar to those of the flu. However, people with meningitis can become seriously ill in a matter of hours, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms.

The first symptoms of meningitis are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • High temperature (fever)
  • Headache
  • Cold hands and feet
  • A rash that does not go away under pressure. This rash can begin as a few small spots on any part of the body and spreads quickly looking like recent bruises. This occurs because blood has leaked into the tissue under the skin. The rash or spots may disappear initially, but then come back.

In the babies, we must monitor the appearance of the following symptoms:

  • Shouts loud and sharp, they seem to be moaning
  • A bulge in the fontanel
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Apathy or stiffness, with jerky movements
  • Food Rejection
  • Rapid, unusual and / or difficult breathing
  • Pale or spotted skin
  • Red or purple spots that do not disappear under pressure

In the children We must monitor if it appears:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Acute back and joint pain
  • Drowsiness or confusion
  • Strong headache
  • Dislike bright lights
  • Very cold hands and feet
  • Shaking chills
  • Fast breathing
  • Red or purple spots that do not disappear under pressure

Meningitis treatment

Viral meningitis is overcome quite quickly and usually does not need any treatment doctor. If the symptoms continue after two weeks, you should go to the doctor again.

The treatment of severe meningitis, which is almost always bacterial (but it can be viral), may require hospitalization, and includes:

  • Antibiotics, usually given intravenously.
  • CorticosteroidsIf meningitis is causing pressure in the brain, corticosteroids (such as dexamethasone) can be given to children and adults.
  • Paracetamol, because it is effective to lower the patient's temperature. Other methods to reduce fever may include a cool bath, administer fluids and good room ventilation.
  • Anticonvulsants, if the patient has seizures.
  • Oxygen therapy, if you have trouble breathing.
  • Fluid controlDehydration is common for patients with meningitis. If a patient becomes dehydrated, meningitis can develop serious problems. It is crucial to administer adequate amounts of fluids. If the patient vomits or cannot drink, fluids can be administered intravenously.
  • Blood testIt is important to measure blood sugar and sodium levels, as well as other vital chemical components of the body.
  • Sedatives, these occur if the patient is irritable or restless.

If meningitis is very serious, the patient may need to remain in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).