Bacterial Meningitis

General Illness Information


Common Name:

Meningitis, Bacterial

Medical Term: None Specified

Description: Bacterial infection of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord (the meninges).  May affect any age group, but most severe in infants and elderly.

Causes: Many species of bacteria can cause meningitis. 3 species account for 80% of all cases: Meningococcus (Niesseria meningitides). Haemophilus (Haemophilus influenza type B).Pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumonia).

Prevention: Get medical care for treatment of any infection in your body to prevent its spread.

Avoid contact with anyone who has meningitis (depending on bacterial type). Those who have had close contact with a person with meningitis may need preventive antibiotic treatment, even if they have no symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms

Fever, chills and sweating (may be absent in advanced stages).

Headache

Irritability.

Eyes sensitive to light.( Photophobia)

Pupils may be of different size.

Stiff neck.

Nausea and vomiting.

Confusion, lethargy, drowsiness or unconsciousness

Red or purple skin rash (associated with one kind of bacteria).

Sore throat or other signs of respiratory infection may precede other symptoms.

Risk Factors

Newborns and infants. Adults over 60.

Illness that has lowered resistance eg. HIV, immuno-compromised patients..

Poor nutrition.

Use of drugs that decrease the body’s immune responses, such as anti-cancer and immuno-suppressive medications.

Alcohol abuse.

Sinus infection or bacterial skin infections around eyes or nose.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnostic tests include laboratory studies, such as blood tests and cultures of throat, blood, nose or other infection sites, lumbar puncture, CT scan, X-rays of chest and head.

General Measures:

Hospitalization, often in an Intensive Care Unit.

Constant nursing to ensure prompt recognition of any possible complications.

Treatment for any co-existing medical conditions.

Isolate patient until determination is made that the disease is no longer contagious.

Medications:

Intravenous antibiotics. Dosage and type will depend on what bacteria is causing meningitis, patient’s age and other health factors.

Activity:

Bed rest while in the hospital.  Increase activity gradually at home.

Diet:

You may be given intravenous nutrients in the hospital. Before discharge you will usually be on a normal diet.

At home, eat a normal, well-balanced diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not be necessary unless you have a deficiency or cannot eat normally.

Possible Complications :

Death or permanent brain damage including paralysis, hearing loss, speech difficulty and intellectual impairment if not treated quickly.

Prognosis

Full recovery is likely in 2 to 3 weeks with treatment, if no complications arise.

Other

 Nothing Specified.

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