Meningitis

Meningitis neck pain

Overview

Bacterial and viral infections are becoming widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, ideal for growth and propagation of these pathogens. Few of these diseases directly affect the Central Nervous Systems and are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. The most life-threatening disease of this category so far is “Meningitis” which affects mainly the infants and children, causing fatalities in numerous cases. According to an epidemiological survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 100 to 800 cases of Meningitis are reported in a population of 1,00,000 annually. At present Africa is bearing the major health burden due to meningococcal infections.

 

What is meningitis?

Meningitis bacteriaMeningitis is an acute inflammation of the meninges (the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord), mediated by bacterial and viral agents.

Although it can attack people belonging to any age group, infants and children are more susceptible to the disease.

According to recent findings by the World Health Organization (WHO), in about 5-10% of the Meningitis cases, symptoms are manifested within 24-48 hours of the primary attack and lead to fatalities.

The disease is usually very contagious in nature and can lead to severe epidemic outbreaks.

 

What causes Meningitis?

Meningitis is primarily triggered by viral or bacterial pathogens. But there are other etiological factors behind Meningitis which are discussed below-

  • Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections may occur due to bacterial invasion via the bloodstream or direct attack of the meninges due to some infections or surgeries. These type of infections are mediated by the Streptococcus, Neisseria, Haemophilus or Listeria species.
  • Viral infections: Viral infections account for a majority of the meningitis cases. These are caused by Herpes virus, Cytomegalovirus or HIV virus. These viruses usually spread during late summer or beginning of fall.
  • Parasitic infections: These are caused by the Angiostrongylus or Gnathostoma species and are usually manifested as abundant eosinophils in the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF).
  • Fungal infections: These are caused by Cryptococcus species and are mainly observed in immunocompromised people.
  • Existing diseases: Meningitis may arise due to few existing diseases like Cancer (malignant meningitis), Sarcoidosis (inflammation of lymph nodes) or Lupus (inflammation of connective tissues) which directly impact the Central Nervous System.
  • Medications: Certain drugs such as Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID), antibiotics etc can trigger meningitis.

 

Transmission routes of meningitis

Meningitis neck painMeningitis is highly contagious and spreads mainly through the respiratory droplets and throat secretions of meningitis infected person. Following are the main transmission routes of Meningitis-

  • Normal activities like coughing or sneezing
  • Sexual interactions
  • Sharing of common items of use like bed-sheets, utensils, towels etc

The advantage in case of Meningitis is that the pathogens cannot survive outside the body for a long time. Hence Meningitis is not as contagious as normal viral or bacterial infections.

 

Symptoms of Meningitis

Symptoms of Meningitis are usually manifested within 24-48 hours of the primary infection. Mainly two cases are observed – infection of the blood (septicemia) or infection of the cerebrospinal fluid (meningitis). The mainly observed symptoms are as follows-

  • Extreme stiffness of the head and neck
  • Sudden seizures and convulsions
  • High fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • The appearance of rashes (mottled skin)
  • Extreme photosensitivity
  • Pain in the joints and muscles
  • Temporary breathlessness
  • Extreme fatigue and sluggishness
  • Confused mental state and irritability
  • Loss of thirst and appetite
  • A severe headache
  • A lump on the soft region (fontanel) on a baby’s head
  • Occasional chills
  • Numbness of hands and feet and extreme shivering

These symptoms may even lead to coma and eventual death.

 

Types of Meningitis

Meningitis Research Foundation has proposed two main classifications of Meningitis based on different factors. Depending on the causative agents, Meningitis can be classified into the following types –

  • Bacterial Meningitis: It is normally caused by migration of bacteria to the brain and spinal cord via prior infections or via the bloodstream. It has the following subtypes-
  • Streptococcus infection: Infections by Streptococcus pneumoniae is more common in infants and young children.
  • Neisseria infection: The Neisseria meningitis bacteria migrate from the upper respiratory tract to the circulating blood and infect the meninges. This is more common in teens and young adults.
  • Haemophilus infection: Haemophilus influenzae mainly causes meningitis in children.
  • Listeria infection: Listeria monocytogenes is mainly present in food items like cheese and meat and infects immunocompromised people.
  • Viral meningitis: It is more common and is mediated by the Cytomegalovirus, Herpes virus and Enteroviruses (in 80% cases).

Based on the infection of the blood, meningitis may be of two types-

  • Septicemia: It is characterized by infection and poisoning of the blood caused due to the transfer of bacteria from the lungs or other parts of the upper respiratory tract into the bloodstream.
  • Aseptic meningitis: It may be caused by both viral and bacterial infections, with complete disappearance of the bacteria at some later stage.

Two other varieties of Meningitis have also been identified. These are –

  • Pneumococcal Meningitis
  • Meningococcal Meningitis

 

Clinical complications

meningitis rashesMeningitis is associated with numerous clinical complications which can eventually damage the vital organs of the body and cause coma or death. The most severe clinical symptoms are listed below-

  • Permanent hearing loss
  • Loss of memory
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Renal failures
  • Cardiovascular disorders

 

Vaccinations

Adequate immunizations should be provided in childhood to prevent the occurrence of meningitis in future. The following vaccines are mandatory-

  • Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccine
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7)
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV)
  • Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)

 

Diagnosis

For accurate diagnosis of meningitis, lumbar punctures are usually carried out to perform analysis of the Cerebrospinal fluid. Chest X-rays and CT scans of the head are also recommended.

 

Treatment of meningitis

  • Bacterial meningitis is the most severe form of the disease and thus requires prompt hospitalization. The treatment is done with antibiotics. These are administered intravenously. If timely treatment is not provided it can cause permanent brain damage and even death.
  • Viral meningitis mostly resolves on its own, though some antiviral medicines might be prescribed in certain cases.
  • Fungal meningitis is treated with the help of antifungal infections.

 Meningitis can be prevented by:

  • The biggest prevention measure is vaccination. The vaccinations that provide protection from meningitis are Hib vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, and meningococcal.
  • One should maintain a safe distance from infected individuals (at least 6 feet) and refrain from sharing food, utensils, and personal care items with them.
  • Similarly, one should avoid coming in direct contact with infected respiratory droplets and saliva.
  • Practice personal hygiene, especially if you are in the vicinity of meningitis patients.

 

Facts

  • Bacterial meningitis, the most prevalent form of the disease, claims 170,000 deaths every year globally.
  • 10-20% of patients diagnosed with meningitis will die within 24-48 hours of detection, in spite of being provided with prompt medical attention.

Facts

  • Though anybody can acquire this deadly infection, children below the age of 5 years and adolescents within15-19 years form the most vulnerable demography.
  • The most disabling consequences of meningitis include permanent brain damage, seizures, deafness, and loss of limb due to septicemia.

Facts

  • Bacterial meningitis cannot spread through casual contact; it spreads through inhalation of infectious nasal droplets.
  • The most common cause of viral meningitis, enterovirus, spreads through fecal contamination.

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Keep in touch with your doctor and discuss in detail the potential side-effects due to the condition. Also, make sure that you get a complete plan for future treatment and care.
  • Get your hearing tested within 4 weeks of treatment of meningitis as hearing loss is a common consequence of this disease.
  • Keep a close check on serious side effects such as gangrene which might necessitate amputation.
Don'ts
  • Go near individuals who have been diagnosed with meningitis or any other respiratory illness.
  • Attend regular school/office if you have this infection to prevent further spread of the infection.
  • Share utensils, food, towels, and bedding with the infected person.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal sex: Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
tasty protein foods chicken
Experts believe these are the best protein foods for you Why are proteins called the building blocks of life? Is the vegan diet really devoid of protein-rich foods?…
Glutathione: Probably the strongest antioxidant known to mankind An antioxidant with ample potential to transform your body, glutathione is one of the most critical substances secreted…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Panera bread steak arugula
Panera Bread: The truth behind this “healthy” restaurant chain What to order and what to avoid when dining at Panera Bread ? Know more about this popular…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Paleo diet man
Paleo Diet: Is eating like the Caveman the right way to go? Paleo diet is the world's oldest diet; dating back to 2.5 million years ago. Why is this prehistoric…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigous superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
stevia side effects
Stevia: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another risky additive? Stevia is a plant native to South America.  It has been used as a natural sugar substitute and…
Pomegranate: Why are they called ruby red pearls of health? The shrub Punicagranatum yields a red fruit which is what you normally call pomegranate. The fruit is round…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
BCAAs powder
BCAA: Now get more out of your workouts with this miracle protein BCAAs are counted as one of the best supplements for increasing your physical endurance. Find out what are…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
Serotonin happiness
Serotonin : What you didn’t know about this “feel-good” chemical Serotonin : Did you know that this "feel-good" hormone could well impact your sleep cycle, sex drive, appetite,…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
low carb diet meal
Low carb diet : Go high on fats and low on carbs for a leaner body! Did you know that sugar is the new fat? Going low on carbs and high on fats &…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
ADHD forgetful
ADD versus ADHD: What are the fundamental differences? Is every hyperactive child a patient of ADHD? Do adults display symptoms of ADHD as well? What is…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
kale
Kale: With more iron than beef, this superfood is the ultimate way to lose weight Checkmate meat-eaters; with kale, vegans now have the ultimate iron-rich superfood as their ally that can protect from…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
How to make the apple cider vinegar diet work for you? Apple cider vinegar diet is a popular choice among health enthusiasts.Find out why nutritionists believe this could be…
How much protein
Proteins: What is the right protein-intake for your specific needs? As we all know protein is an essential macronutrient indispensible to good health and body. But how much…
Horny Goat Weed: Can it improve libido in human beings too? This plant got its name as Horny Goat Weed when one of the goats feeding on the plant…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
Healthy pregnancy tips
How to have a healthy pregnancy: Essential tips to remember What to expect when growing a life within you? How important are prenatal vitamins anyway? Don't make these…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…