It is estimated that meningitis causes more than 1000 deaths daily around the world and leaves many more with lifelong disabilities. This disease is caused by inflammation of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cords commonly known as meninges. This inflammation is brought about by infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This inflammation can damage the brain and the nerves.
This condition can affect anyone, men and women of all ages although children under five years are at a higher risk.
Symptoms in children
Children exhibit vomiting, high fever with colds feet and hands, refusing to feed, feeling agitated, being drowsy, being floppy and responsive. Other signs may include pale and botchy skin, having a red rash that does not fade even when glass is rolled over it as well as a tense soft spot on the child’s head. High-pitch cry, stiff neck and convulsions could also signal meningitis.
Symptoms in adults
Older children and adults exhibit vomiting, drowsiness, severe muscle pain, irritability and sensitivity to light. Some people will also have a stiff neck, seizures and their skins turn pale and blotchy. A typical rash, cold hands and feet could also be signs of this disease.
There are two types of meningitis, bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is the more serious of the two and should be handled as a medical emergency. Bacterial meningitis is common among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 years and it causes brain damage and blood infection if left untreated. On the other hand, viral meningitis which is the most common is less serious and is the one commonly mistaken with flu. It is more common in children during the summer
Diagnosing meningitis can be difficult because it often comes on quickly and can be easily mistaken for flu, as many of the symptoms are the similar. Thus, when you see any of the above symptoms, it is good to immediately seek medical attention. Treatment commences immediately the condition is suspected since tests could take a long time and delaying treatment could be detrimental. The doctor will do a physical examination and follow it up with further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Doctors treat this condition using intravenous antibiotics. The doctors will also prescribe painkillers for headaches and anti-sickness drugs for vomiting and recommend plenty of rest. With treatment, the condition improves in a few weeks time.
Ensuring children are vaccinated against the disease is the best prevention measure. Vaccination is available as part of childhood vaccination programmes. Of late, there has been an increase in cases of Meningitis W disease caused by the meningitis W bacteria which has a deadly strain. Due to this, medics are calling for young men adults between the age of 17 and 25 to be vaccinated. This men ACWY vaccine is meant to protect them against four causes of this disease.