What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is a serious clinical syndrome in which inflammation of the meninges takes place in the layer covering the brain and spinal cord. It is an infection of membranes that are surrounded by these two vital body parts which support the entire nervous system. This disease can be caused by fungal, bacterial or viral infections. Meningitis can be acute, with quick symptoms. But it can be chronic too, as it can last a month or more.
One of the most common forms of meningitis is acute bacterial. According to a survey, approximately 80 percent of cases are acute bacterial meningitis. Moreover, bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening if it is not treated timely with the right medication. It can cause tissue around the brain to swell, which affects blood flow resulting in stroke or paralysis. The bacteria responsible for bacterial meningitis are common in the environment, and can be found in your respiratory system or nose with no adverse effects.
Sometimes meningitis occurs without a reason. But, in some cases it occurs after a head injury or after you has had an infection or weak immune system.
The most common symptoms of bacterial meningitis:
- Neck stiffness
Some other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, confusion, photalgia (photophobia), irritability, sleepiness, coma, delirium, and coma. Patients with viral meningitis can face preceding systemic symptoms, such as anorexia, myalgias, or fatigue.
Medical history should also address the following:
- Previous medical treatment and existing conditions
- Exposure to patients or animals with similar illnesses
- Season and temperature
- Geographic location and travel history
- Epidemiologic factors and predisposing risks
Who can get bacterial meningitis?
Children that fall under the ages of one month and two years are the most susceptible to bacterial meningitis. Adults have certain risk factors that are predictable. Patients who consume alcohol have a higher risk of chronic nose and ear infections.
Meningitis Vaccines for Children and Teen
If you have the weakened immune system, there is a greater risk of being infected by this disease. There are various vaccination programs that have reduced the amount of cases in certain types of meningitis all over the world. But there is still an assortment of bacteria which is tough to treat due to the nonexistence of a vaccine. Viral meningitis is one the most common forms of the disease, but it’s less severe than the bacterial version.
- Quadrivalent meningococcal
Children 11 to 12 years old should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quad rivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Older teens require a second at the age of 16 years to stay protected.
- Serogroup B
Teens and young adults ranging from 16 to 23 must be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine that is preferably meant for children between 16 and 18 years. The most popular vaccines are:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), sold as Menactra, MenHibrix, and Menveo.
- Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4), sold as Menomune
- Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine sold as Trumenba and Bexsero.
Meningitis can cause severe problems like dysfunction of the brain and stroke, if not treated the right way. Thus, vaccinations play a vital role in prevention of this disease. Consult your doctor for the best treatment options that can be tailored to your personal needs.