The membranes that cover the spinal cord and the brain are called meninges. When these membranes become inflamed it is known as Meningitis. Although meningitis can be caused by a few medications or other illnesses, meningitis is typically caused by a virus (known as viral or aseptic meningitis) or some of bacteria (known as bacterial meningitis).

Meningitis can be confused for the common flu and therefore may go undiagnosed for sometime. Bacterial meningitis is pretty rare but viral meningitis is highly contagious between people that are living in tight quarters. It is possible for a child to get meningitis at any age if left unvaccinated. For this reason it is important to keep children current on their vaccinations for such illnesses. Even if your child contracts meningitis it can be successfully treated, as long as it is caught and diagnosed promptly.

Similar to the common flu, the symptoms of meningitis can come on rather suddenly, although it has shown to surface slowly in other patients, depending on the cause of the meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria that has infected the body and has spread throughout the bloodstream to the meninges. This can include bacterial infections involving the urinary tract, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, ear infections, sinus infections or the skin. Anytime a bacterial infection gets into the blood and travels through the cerebrospinal fluid can result in meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis can be quite serious so it is important to seek medical attention right away if meningitis is suspected. If symptoms such as fever, irritability, lethargy, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to the light, seizures, or skin rashes appear then these are definitely warning signs that you may be dealing with meningitis. It is also common for these symptoms to surface a few days after a child has battled a cold, or diarrhea and vomiting. Since another infection may have led to the meningitis it can take a few days for the meningitis to surface. In babies, these common symptoms may not be as noticeable since the baby cannot explain what they are feeling. Instead they may have a high fever or a lower than normal temperature, be extremely cranky or inconsolable, or even have seizures. Other symptoms an infant with meningitis can have include poor feeding, a stiff body or neck, crying, jaundice, or a bulging appearance from the soft spot on the infant’s skull. Bacterial infections need to be medically treated with antibiotics in order to be cured so see your doctor as soon as any of these symptoms appear.

Viral meningitis often occurs and resolves itself without the patient ever knowing that is what they have. Because viral meningitis can often show up like a common virus it can pass within 7 to 10 days with plenty of fluids, rest and pain medications to control fever and pain. If the meningitis is severe a person may be emitted into the hospital to receive extra IV fluids.

Both types of meningitis can be transmitted due to contagious infections. Meningitis can be passed throughout children in daycares, schools, college dorm rooms, or anywhere else they may be in close contact with others. The infections are usually passed through the air or through bodily fluids. It is important to prevent sharing of foods, drinks, tissues or anything else that can carry the germs of an infected person. Once meningitis has broke out at a daycare, school or workplace it is important to let your doctor know if you have been exposed. Often a doctor can prescribe medications in order to take precautions and prevent you or your child from contracting the illness.

Last updated on Jun 5th, 2009 and filed under Neurological Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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