Spinal meningitis

Perhaps you have heard the horror stories about spinal meningitis. A mother drops her son off for his first year at college. He has a great time in his freshman dorm, going to class, attending frat parties, and making the new and worldly friends that always seem to come along with college. Then one night he calls home. Something is wrong. He thinks he might have the flu, but this is the worst flu he’s ever experienced in his life, and some of the symptoms are unusual, such a stiff neck and sensitivity to light. His mother rushes to his side, but she’s too late. The boy suffered from spinal meningitis, and just a few short days, he was gone.

Spinal meningitis is indeed many mothers’ horror disease. The condition results when the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spine become inflamed due to an infection. Because the disease is an inflammation, it triggers severe swelling, and that can turn what at first appeared like a simple cold or flu into a life and death emergency case.

It is important for everyone to recognize the symptoms of spinal meningitis. During the winter time, when flu and other illnesses are prevalent, it is easy to mistake spinal meningitis for another illness. Read up and memorize these symptoms so that you do not make that potentially fatal mistake. Spinal meningitis symptoms include: high fever, intense, severe headache, vomiting or nausea along with bad headache, confusion or difficulty concentrating, seizures, sleepiness or difficulty waking, stiff neck (meningitis’ “hallmark” sign – consult a physician immediately if someone you know is experiencing this symptom), sensitivity to light, not eating or drinking, and a rash on the skin.

Further, if you are the parent or guardian of a small child, you should know how the symptoms of spinal meningitis might manifest in this age group: constant crying, sleeping too much, inability or poor ability to feed, a bulge in the baby’s soft spot (fontanel) due to inflammation, and stiffness in the baby’s neck or body.

If you know anybody that might have meningitis, the time to get them to the doctor is now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go to the doctor. The reason for this urgency is that as spinal meningitis progresses, it can worsen exponentially. Even if it does not result in death, if spinal meningitis is not treated in time, it can lead to severe and permanent brain damage. Imagine finding that your loved one is brain damaged because you did not know the tell-tale warning signs of spinal meningitis.

Luckily for most meningitis sufferers, they are suffering from a type known as viral meningitis. This type of meningitis is caused by a virus and, like a flu, usually clears up on its own. On the other hand, bacterial meningitis is where the real menace lies. This is the type of meningitis that can cause brain swelling, brain damage, and death and should be treated without hesitation. Bacterial meningitis can strike when other types of infections, such as the listeria type of food poisoning or common strep throat, are not detected and treated and are allowed to fester and grow. For this reason, it is important to visit your doctor if you suspect you have any type of infection, as it could turn into deadly meningitis.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of spinal meningitis, stop reading this and call for help right away. Spinal meningitis is a deadly disease that can spread quickly and result in death. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention. If you must, visit the emergency room immediately.

Last updated on Aug 6th, 2010 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Spinal meningitis”

  1. Evelyn Brooks says:

    This article provides an excellent overview of the types of Meningitis and it’s symptoms. As a mother who has lost a college student to meningitis, I want to stress that this disease can potentially be prevented through vaccination!

    My daughter, Paula thought she had the flu, she had a sore throat and a high fever. In less than 24 hours she was on life support in the ICU at her University’s hospital.

    Bacterial meningitis, the most severe form doesn’t give you any time to determine if it is the flu or not—within hours you child can die! As a volunteer for the National Meningitis Association, I now know that this disease can take on many clinical presentations, with or without the “neck pain”. The best way to prevent meningitis is through immunization against the disease. The CDC now recommends the meningitis vaccine for adolescents age 11-18 prior to starting school or sleep over camps. The vaccine is available for ages 2-50.

    Check with your physician or your health department today!

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