All You Need to Know About Meningitis
Meningitis, encephalitis or meningitis is a disease of the meninges, which can be attacked by inflammation and lasting damage. Mostly the cause of meningitis or meningitis is an infection by bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis, meningitis or meningitis is a very serious and complex disease. This leads to an inflammation of the meninges.
Meningitis must be treated quickly, and if discovered, a doctor or hospital should be consulted immediately. If meningitis is present, it is important to act quickly, as the course of therapy depends to a large extent on the development of the disease.
Meningitis is a classic bacterial infection that usually occurs in young children or adolescents. In most cases, three types of bacteria are responsible for the onset of the disease.
Three types of bacteria in particular can lead to meningitis or meningitis. These are the meningococci (Neisseria meningitidis), the pneumococci (Streptococcus pneumoniae) and the Haemophilus influenzae.
Most meningitis can be traced back to the types of bacteria listed above, which are usually transmitted from person to person by a droplet infection, for example by sneezing or coughing. Often a rather uncomplicated and harmless inflammation of the upper respiratory tract occurs beforehand, which then leads to meningitis.
However, vaccination against Haemophilus influenzae is possible in Germany, which is why meningococci in particular are a cause of meningitis today. According to estimates, the meningococci are responsible for half of the recorded cases of meningitis. In newborns, however, other pathogens usually lead to meningitis.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
In the different forms of meningitis (meningitis), the symptoms and complaints are different in their development and severity. With bacterial meningitis, severe headaches almost always occur. Typical of bacterial meningitis is the occurrence of at least one of the following symptoms: stiff neck, decreased consciousness, high fever.
In particular, the stiff neck (meningism) is a clear indication of meningitis. With leg meningism, those affected are unable to move their head or can only move their sternum with considerable pain. Often meningitis also results in sensitivity to noise, aching limbs and photophobia. Vomiting, dizziness, hearing and speech disorders and nausea are also relatively common.
In meningitis caused by meningococci, sepsis occurs in around 30 percent of cases. This blood poisoning can be recognized by red and brown patches of skin. The symptoms of virally induced meningitis are characteristically less pronounced than in bacterial meningitis.
In infants and children suffering from meningitis, there are often only the unspecific signs of fever or nausea, which also occur with other diseases. Neck stiffness as a symptom is atypical at this age. In the rare special cases of tuberculous meningitis and neuroborreliosis, fever is often the only symptom for a long time.
In the case of meningitis, positive developments can usually be brought about. In some cases, however, complications cannot be ruled out. Sometimes the affected person can develop a meningoencephalic. This means that the inflammation spreads from the meninges to the brain.
Since the brain is connected to the spinal cord via the central nervous system, meningoencephalomyelitis, an inflammation of the meninges, the brain and the spinal cord, can also occur. Neurological damage such as loss of hearing or paralysis cannot be ruled out either. In addition, psychological damage (disabilities or behavioral problems) are not uncommon.
An accumulation of pus in a cavity that has formed can also be cited as an example of a negative course. Furthermore, a disruption of the cerebral water circulation cannot be ruled out. Vascular occlusion of the veins due to blood clots is not uncommon.
There is a particular risk of complications in the early course of meningitis. In such cases, special treatment is required. Nevertheless, the prognosis for the disease can be unfavorable. With bacterial meningitis, an average of one to two in ten people have complications.
Blood poisoning (sepsis) is one of the most serious consequences of meningitis. It occurs when the meningitis pathogens multiply in the blood. The toxic waste from the germs poison the blood. The blood poisoning poses a higher risk to life than the meningitis itself.
The bacteria penetrate the bloodstream into other organs and tissues and damage them. In the worst case, the affected person suffers a septic shock. This in turn leads to acute circulatory failure. Because the organs and tissues are poorly supplied with blood, they are damaged.
Furthermore, there is a risk of a blood clot due to the reduced blood flow in the limbs. As the disease progresses, there is a risk of life-threatening organ failure. For this reason, the complications of meningitis must always be treated immediately in the intensive care unit.
Another dangerous consequence is meningoencephalomyelitis, which affects the meninges and brain and spreads to the spinal cord. As a result, the patient can suffer permanent neurological damage. These include loss of hearing, paralysis and intellectual disabilities. Other conceivable complications of meningitis are meningoencephalitis, vascular occlusion and a brain abscess.
When should you go to the doctor?
A doctor should be consulted in the event of decreased performance, listlessness, listlessness, fatigue and general weakness, especially if these complaints persist for several days for no reason or if they increase in intensity. If there is a fever, dizziness, vomiting or nausea, a doctor is needed.
Persistent tiredness, inner restlessness and low resilience should be examined and treated. If sleep disorders occur, concentration or attention problems arise, a doctor’s visit is required. In the event of a disturbance of consciousness, a doctor must be consulted as soon as possible or an ambulance service must be called. Changes in skin appearance, pale complexion, a drop in blood pressure, or cold feet and hands are indications that should be investigated. If the balance is disturbed, further functional or digestive disorders set in or cramps occur, a doctor should be consulted.
If there is pain in the bones or joints, general malaise or a feeling of illness, a kind should be consulted. If you have a headache, a feeling of pressure inside your head, aching limbs or an aversion to normal exposure to light, the person concerned needs medical care. If memory disorders occur or everyday duties can no longer be fulfilled, a doctor must be consulted to clarify the cause.
Treatment & Therapy
The side effects and a negative course in meningitis can, however, be avoided. It is important that the meningitis therapy begins immediately. In most cases, strong antibiotics are administered for therapy. After this initial measure has been taken and the blood test is available to the doctor treating you, the antibiotics are matched to the blood test.
As a rule, it is then taken for 7 to 14 days. In the case of meningitis, the bacteria can also spread in the body, so that blood poisoning can also occur. In such a case, therapy must be carried out in a hospital under close observation and treatment. Such an approach can significantly reduce the risk of serious complications and consequential damage.
For your own safety, therapy should be carried out in a hospital under medical supervision, even if the meningitis is not very advanced.
Inflammation of the meninges is a dangerous and high-risk disease that requires appropriate follow-up care even after the healing process has been overcome. Even during the treatment of such an inflammation of the meninges, regular visits to the doctor should not be missed. Failure to do so can lead to serious complications that cannot be recovered afterwards.
For this reason, appropriate follow-up care is very important and significant. Any complications can be identified, treated and eliminated at an early stage. If the inflammation of the meninges is completely over, further visits to the doctor are necessary. With appropriate follow-up care, later brain damage can be diagnosed at an early stage so that long-term effects can be avoided.
Even several years after surviving meningitis, preventive examinations should always take place. Such examinations can nip serious complications in the bud. Appropriate and regular follow-up care is just as important as the treatment itself. This is the only way to identify and treat long-term effects or other diseases that can be traced back to past inflammation of the meninges. A full and lasting recovery is therefore very much dependent on proper follow-up care.
Outlook & forecast
The course of meningitis depends on whether it is caused by bacteria or viruses. If the disease is mild, in some cases it can even go away without treatment. However, bacterial disease in particular leads to death if not treated quickly. Herpes simplex meningitis caused by the virus can also be life-threatening.
If an illness is suspected, therapeutic measures should be taken as soon as possible. The faster the treatment, the less likely it is that you will no longer be able to cure it. Meningitis-related complications are very common.
If this is caused by bacteria, it can lead to swelling of the brain with increased intracranial pressure, blood clots, paralysis of the nerves or loss of hearing. Also, a blood poisoning can occur. These complications often arise when the disease is caused by meningococci or pneumococci.
As a therapeutic measure, the doctor will use antibiotics to fight the bacteria. If this happens at an early stage of the disease, there is great hope of a cure. However, if the meningitis is viral, antibiotics will not help. If it does not heal by itself, antivirals are used. Even then, the prognosis is to be assessed positively.
You can do that yourself
Self-help or self-treatment leading to healing is not possible with meningitis and is therefore not recommended under any circumstances. Treatment must always be carried out by a doctor.
Absolute calm in the patient’s surroundings, darkened rooms and cold compresses for the head have a relieving effect during the illness. In addition, homeopathic remedies such as Belladonna for headaches and Gelsemium sempervirens for photosensitivity can be administered. The recommendations for a diet that supports the healing process during illness vary.
On the one hand, a consciously protein-rich diet such as meat broth with egg and drinking plenty of milk is recommended in order to maintain physical strength for as long as possible. On the other hand, foods that strengthen the immune system can support the healing process. Foods with antibiotic properties such as echinacea, onions, lemons, radishes, garlic and fresh vegetable juices are particularly helpful here. If vomiting prevents food intake, nutritional enemas can help.
In Germany there are self-help groups on the subject of meningitis. After surviving the illness, those affected and their relatives can exchange their experiences here, talk to each other about various therapy options, memory training and help in everyday life.