What you need to know about meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges or protective layers around the brain and spinal cord Korean peninsula. It is most commonly caused by bacteria and viruses, but can also be caused by chemicals, medications, physical injury or cancer.

What are the symptoms?

Young children with bacterial or viral meningitis, may have with fever, feel irritable and feel very sleepy. Older children and adults may also experience confusion, headaches, a stiff neck, sensitivity to bright light and nausea. Meningitis can be contagious and is transmitted through the exchange of throat and respiratory secretions (kissing, sneezing etc.).

How is it diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects meningitis, they will recommend doing some blood tests and a lumbar puncture. During a lumbar puncture a needle is used to extract spinal fluid from the lower back. This fluid is sent for analysis to determine what type of meningitis you might have. This is important as it helps your doctor know how to treat you and can help prevent the disease spreading to other people.

What are the different kinds of Meningitis?

Viral meningitis is the most common form of meningitis and is usually less serious than bacterial meningitis. It often clears without treatment, although your doctor may still recommend hospitalising you. It usually occurs after a viral infection like flu, gastro, mumps or measles. Fortunately viral meningitis does not usually have serious complications.

Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, is usually severe and can be caused by different organisms like Haemophilis, Streptococcus or Meningococcus. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial meningitis and their early use can help prevent serious complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, learning difficulties and even death. If you have been exposed to Meningococcal  or Haemophilis meningitis, you may need antibiotics to prevent you from getting it. Fortunately vaccines are available to prevent the most common types of bacterial meningitis – it is important that children and hostel dwellers are immunised to limit spread in the case of an outbreak.

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Young children, immune-compromised people and the elderly are most susceptible to meningitis. They should be immunised against it and regular hand washing as well as avoiding people who are ill will help prevent the spread. Anyone displaying early signs of meningitis should see a doctor to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.