What Is Meningitis?


Meningitis is basically an inflammation of the meninges. Meninges are the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Mostly it is caused by bacteria or viruses but it can also be caused both by the use of certain medicines and illness.


There are two main types of meningitis

  • Viral meningitis (aseptic meningitis)
  • Bacterial meningitis

Viral meningitis is less serious and less common. It often remains undiagnosed as its symptoms resembles to those of common flu. Bacterial meningitis can be serious and life-threatening but it is rare.

Meningitis is common among students, teens and kids. Meningitis can be treated successfully, if dealt with promptly. It is important to seek medical care right away to get routine vaccinations.

Causes of Meningitis

Bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis are common and are associated with other illnesses. Bacteria and viruses that infect our skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal tract and urinary system can spread by our bloodstream to the meninges through the fluid that spreads in and around the spinal cord-cerebrospinal fluid.

In some cases, bacterial meningitis can occur through trauma or any local infection like ear infection (otitis media) or sinusitis (nasal infection) which causes the spread of bacteria to the meninges.

In newborns, bacterial meningitis is caused by Group B Streptococcus, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes while in older kids, Neisseria meningitides (meningococcus) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pnemococcus) causes bacterial meningitis.

Symptoms of Meningitis

Symptoms of meningitis vary from the age of patient to the cause of an infection. It is very important to diagnose an infection as early as possible because flu-like symptoms are common in both types of meningitis. Common symptoms include:

  • Running nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Skin rashes
  • Stiff neck
  • Photophobia
  • Headache

Meningitis in infants

They may seem to be quite irritable and lethargic when they are picked. Other symptoms of meningitis in infants may include:

  • A weak suck
  • A high-pitched cry
  • Poor feeding
  • Neck rigidity
  • Jaundice
  • Fever

Filed Under: General Health

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