Saturday, January 13, 2018 by Frances Bloomfield
Bacterial meningitis is a form of meningitis, a condition wherein the membranes outlining the brain and spinal cord (the meninges) become inflamed. In comparison to the other types of meningitis (e.g. viral, fungal, and parasitic), bacterial meningitis is far rarer but more severe. From 2003 to 2007, over 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis were recorded each year, with 500 of those cases being fatal. As of 2006, the mortality rate of bacterial meningitis is at 34 percent; moreover, 50 percent of the patients who managed to recover from bacterial meningitis experienced a variety of long-term effects.
According to CDC.gov, the causes of bacterial meningitis can differ among age groups. For instance, bacterial meningitis among newborns can be caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli. On the other hand, teens, young adults, and older adults can acquire bacterial meningitis through Neisseria meningitidis. The bacteria that cause this disease are usually spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, or lengthy contact. Other times, the consumption of certain foods (e.g. soft cheeses, sandwich meats, and hot dogs) can lead to people developing bacterial meningitis.
Babies and people who have weak immune systems are at the greatest risk of developing bacterial meningitis. However, people with sinus infections, head fractures, or have undergone surgery are vulnerable as well. This is because these circumstances greatly lower the immune system, which in turn leaves the body more open to catching diseases.
After infection, the symptoms of bacterial meningitis can either manifest immediately or over the course of three to seven days. Early symptoms include:
Among infants, the following symptoms may occur:
On top of the aforementioned symptoms, bacterial meningitis can cause more severe health complications, many of which can be permanent. According to HealthLine.com, these are:
The brain and spinal cord are most affected by bacterial meningitis. Far from just causing inflammation of the meninges, this disease can damage the brain through other means. For instance, extreme swelling can lead to increased pressure within the skull that results in parts of the brain shifting and possibly dividing it into compartments. This causes brain herniation, a potentially life-threatening condition. Another risk brought on by bacterial meningitis is hydrocephalus, wherein fluid accumulates within the ventricles and enlarges them. Hydrocephalus can place extra pressure on and eventually damage the brain.
Other areas can also be affected by bacterial meningitis, most notably the bloodstream. Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a great risk, as the blood clots that develop across the bloodstream may lead to excessive bleeding in time.
Diet can play a role in treating bacterial meningitis. Combined with formal medical treatments, the following foods may aid in abating the symptoms of bacterial meningitis:
Standard treatment will call for the administration of different antibiotics, usually depending on the specific bacteria causing the infection. In addition to antibiotics, other treatments may be given as well if needed. For example, fluids may be directly injected into the veins to prevent dehydration, while a face mask may be provided in the event that the patient is experiencing breathing difficulties. A hospital stay to treat bacterial meningitis can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
At home, the affected person should get plenty of bed rest. Anti-emetic or anti-sickness medicine may be taken in case of vomiting, while painkillers may be prescribed to alleviate any headaches or general aches. Those who are taking care of people with bacterial meningitis are advised against prolonged close contact to prevent spreading the infection.
Bacterial meningitis is the most severe form of meningitis, and can be caused by various types of bacteria. People of all ages are at risk of contracting bacterial meningitis, which is usually spread through close contact and the exchange of bodily fluids with carriers. Bacterial meningitis can cause a person to experience nausea, vomiting, and muscle pains. Left untreated, bacterial meningitis can worsen and lead to septicemia, paralysis, and movement problems.
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