What Is Meningitis?

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What Is Meningitis

Generally speaking, meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges and the subarachnoid space. The inflammation can be caused by infections, different disorders, or reaction to some drugs.

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So what are meninges? Meninges are the three membranes named the dura mater, arachnoid, and the pia mater. These membranes enclose the brain and the spinal cord. Subarachnoid space is the space between the arachnoid and the pia mater.

Meningitis can be classified according to the cause of the inflammation. There are five types of meningitis based on the source of inflammation, namely bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis, fungal meningitis, parasitic meningitis, and a rarely found variety i.e., non-infectious meningitis.

The signs and symptoms presented by different types of meningitis tend to vary. The variation is mostly in the severity of the disease. Except for infants, older people, and immunocompromised patients, all types of meningitis exhibits three common symptoms, which are a headache, fever, and neck rigidity. Patients may also appear lethargic.

Neck rigidity is the resistance to neck flexion. The stiffness in the neck region caused by meningitis is differentiated from other diseases by the sign that only flexion is affected in meningitis. Whereas, In other conditions that cause neck rigidity, mostly movement in all directions is hindered.

Bacterial meningitis is the most common form of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be potentially life-threatening diseases as it can cause complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, and ultimately death. Bacterial meningitis is infectious and can travel from one person to another person through sneezing and coughing or through saliva. Contaminated food can sometimes also be a cause of bacterial meningitis. You can get protected from some form of bacterial meningitis by getting vaccinated.

Viral meningitis shows less severity as compared to bacterial meningitis. This kind of meningitis can spread through fecal contamination. Eye, nose, and mouth secretions can also be a source of infection. Blister fluid can also be a cause of the spread of disease. Thorough washing of the hands is advised to ensure prevention from viral meningitis.

In parasitic meningitis, standard meningitis signs such as headache, fever, and stiff neck start to show one to seven days after infection. The usual symptoms are followed by loss of balance, seizures, confusion, hallucinations, and lack of attention. The parasitic organism is found to be present in warm freshwaters, soil, and in warm water released from industrial sources, ill-treated swimming pools, and water heaters. Parasitic meningitis cannot be transferred from one person to another.

Fungal meningitis happens rarely and is caused by a fungus entering the bloodstream. People with weak immune systems are more vulnerable to get fungal meningitis. Inhalation of fungal spores and their entrance into the blood vessels is the most common cause of fungal meningitis. Fungal meningitis also cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Non-infectious meningitis, which is also non-transmissible to other people, usually occurs due to cancer, an auto-immune disease called lupus, a head injury or brain surgery, or from some medications. In addition to typical symptoms shown in meningitis, light sensitivity and altered mental state can also be manifested.

Until Next Time,

Team Doctor ASKY!

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