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Bacterial meningitis: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The meninge is a thin tissue that surrounds the spinal cord and the brain, meningitis consists of the inflammation of this tissue due to the contagion of a virus, fungus or bacteria. Although bacterial meningitis is much less frequent than viral meningitis, it is a very dangerous condition that, if not acted upon quickly, can leave the patient with significant sequelae or lead, in more serious cases, to death. 70% of those affected with this condition are children under 5 years of age , so recognizing the symptoms early and acting quickly is key to avoiding its serious complications. In this FastlyHealarticle we explain the causes, symptoms and treatment of bacterial meningitis .

What are the causes of bacterial meningitis?

The bacterial meningitis is the less common of meningitis, however it is the most serious type because of the consequences that can generate if not treated properly. This is produced by the contagion of certain bacteria through respiratory secretions such as sneezing or coughing. Once the bacteria enter the body, they can reach the blood and access the meningeal area, causing this dangerous inflammation.

The bacteria that commonly cause bacterial meningitis are Streptococcus pneumoniae, better known as pneumococcus , which can cause infections such as pneumonia or sinusitis, and Neisseria meningitidi known as meningococcus . In addition, this condition can also be caused by the contagion of other bacteria such as Haemophilus influenzae , E-coli or Listeria, especially affecting people with a weaker immune system such as children.

Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis

Detecting the symptoms of bacterial meningitis early is essential to receive prompt and timely treatment, which will make the difference between presenting or not possible sequelae. Symptoms are similar between both types of meningitis, so specialized care is required to determine which one it is.

The most common signs are:

  • Fever.
  • Neck stiffness.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Strong headache.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Confusion and drowsiness.
  • Other symptoms include bulging fontanelles in babies, rapid breathing, irritability.

If the person presenting the symptoms has been in contact with a patient who has suffered from meningitis or any disease caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia, it is essential to see an emergency doctor . After a physical examination, the lumbar puncture is usually the classic test that allows to diagnose this condition, additionally head tomographies, chest x-rays and a blood culture can be performed to confirm the result.

How is this disease treated?

The treatment of bacterial meningitis is antibiotic, the patient must be hospitalized and under strict medical supervision for possibly several weeks. In addition to antibiotics, intravenous hydration and other medications can be applied to control the possible symptoms generated by the advance of the infection, such as seizures or cerebral edema.

Complications and sequelae of bacterial meningitis

The bacterial meningitis can produce blockages in the blood vessels of the brain leading to spills and significant damage in this area. Additionally, inflammation can also affect other organs, which would cause coagulation and breathing problems, among others. Antibiotic treatment on time can make a difference, preventing the advance of the infection.

The sequelae of bacterial meningitis will depend on the speed with which the patient has been treated and in many cases they do not appear, however when they appear the damage is irreversible. The patient may suffer from:

  • Deafness.
  • Red spots on the skin.
  • Blindness.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Paralysis.
  • Neurological sequelae.
  • Coma.

In the worst prognosis cases, some patients may die from complications generated by the infection.

Meningitis prevention

Maintaining proper hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, after eating, sneezing, or being in contact with foreign fluids can help prevent many infections, including this one. Additionally, there are some vaccines that can significantly reduce the risk of contracting meningitis, these are:

  • Meningococcal vaccine.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Haemophilus vaccine .

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Bacterial Meningitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment , we recommend that you enter our Brain and Nerves category .

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