What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is a deadly infection that affects the delicate membranes known as (Meninges) which cover the brain and spinal cord. It is viral or bacterial infection is contagious among people in close contact.
We also have another type of Meningitis it is called Fungal meningitis; this is a rare type of meningitis and generally occurs only in people with weakened immune systems.
This inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can also be caused by diseases that can trigger inflammation of tissues of the body without infection (such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Behçet's disease).
Meningitis is generally caused by infection of viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and certain organisms. Weak immune systems may be linked to recurrent bacterial meningitis. In the majority of cases the cause is a virus.
Types of Meningitis
· Viral meningitis
Viral meningitis is the most common, it is rarely a serious infection. It can be caused by a number of different viruses, such as mosquito-borne viruses. There is no special treatment for this type of meningitis. In most cases the illness resolves itself within a week without any complications.
· Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis is generally a serious and dangerous infection. It is caused by three types of bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningitides which also known as meningococcal meningitis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria is called pneumococcal meningitis. People become infected when they have contact with the fluid secrete from meningitis victim.
· Fungal Meningitis
Fungi Meningitis is rare and usually caused by fungus spreading through blood to the spinal cord. Although anyone can get fungal meningitis, people with weakened immune systems, like those with an HIV infection or cancer, are at increased risk. The most common cause of fungal meningitis for people with weak immune systems is Cryptococcus. This disease is one of the most common causes of adult meningitis in Africa.
Various parasites can cause meningitis or can affect the brain or nervous system in other ways. Overall, parasitic meningitis is much less common than viral and bacterial meningitis. A parasite called Naegleria fowleri is the source for primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a very rare type of parasitic meningitis. This form of the disease causes a brain infection that progresses rapidly. This infection becomes fatal after 12 days.
However, meningitis can also develop due to other, non-infectious reasons, which include certain chemicals and cancers. Non-infectious meningitis is not contagious, so it does not spread from person to person. They are:
- Carcinomatosis (widespread metastatic cancer)
- Contaminated water (may contain parasites)
- Head injury, birth defect of the skull, brain surgery (may result in infection of the meninges or cerebrospinal fluid)
- Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen) and antibiotics (e.g., Bactrim, Septra).
Symptoms/Signs of Meningitis
- Fever (can also have cold hands and feet)
- Reluctance to feed
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Irritability/dislike being handled
- Floppy/difficult to wake/unresponsive
- Difficulties breathing or grunting
- Faster or slower than normal breathing rate
- Pale/blotchy skin
- Red/purple spots/rash that do not fade under pressure
- High pitched cry/moaning/whimpering
- Bulging fontanelle (soft spot)
- Arched back
- Swollen abdomen
- Dry nappies
How to diagnose Meningitis
When you are having all the symptoms above and your doctor suspects you have meningitis, In most cases, your doctor will perform a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. A spinal tap, which extracts cerebrospinal fluid from your spine, is the only definitive way to diagnosis meningitis. Spinal fluid is made by the brain and surrounds the brain and spinal cord to protect it. Your spinal fluid will have high protein levels and an increased white blood cell count if you have meningitis. This fluid can also help your doctor determine whether bacteria, viruses, or other infectious agents are causing the meningitis.
Your doctor may also order additional tests to determine the specific virus that caused the aseptic meningitis. These tests can include blood tests or imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans.
How to Prevent Meningitis
Antibiotics can be given to help prevent meningitis
Antibiotics can be given to help prevent meningitis this is because bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening, standard meningitis treatment involves delivering the antibiotics intravenously, through a vein. According to Nigrovic “IV [intravenous] antibiotics will ensure that high levels of the medicine will get into the central nervous system where the infection really exists,”
Antibiotics are typically given three times a day for 7 to 21 days, depending on the type of bacteria organism causing the meningitis and the type of antibiotic chosen. Patients are often in an intensive care unit of a hospital during meningitis treatment so that they can be watched carefully to be sure the antibiotic treatment is effective.
Avoid close contact with someone who has meningitis
Try to avoid any contact with fluid secrets from the victim’s mouth and nose (for example, kissing, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, sharing drinks or utensils)
Getting vaccinated against meningitis is considered as the most popular and effective way to prevent the disease.
There are two main types of vaccines that are commonly used to protect you from meningitis. It is recommended that you should take a vaccine at age 11 or 12 and then have the second one when you are 16 or 18 years old. The reason for this is that people have more risk of getting meningitis between the ages of 16 and 21. If you plan to enter into the military or go traveling or migrate to another country in which meningitis is a common disease then take a vaccine is highly recommended.
In addition, getting vaccines that prevent some common diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox is also very useful because they can protect you from these disease as well as viral meningitis.
Don't Share Personal Items
Meningitis can be contracted when you come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions — saliva, sputum, nasal mucus — of someone who is infected, either through kissing or sharing personal items. You can prevent the spread of meningitis by not sharing items where secretions can lurk, such as drinking glasses, water bottles, straws, silverware, toothbrushes, lipsticks or lip glosses, and cigarettes.
Strengthen your immune system
In addition to protect yourself from outside factors, it is very important to protect from inside by strengthening your immune system.
If unfortunately you get exposure to factors that can cause meningitis, a good and healthy immune system will help in the situations like this. It works to fight against these factors and protect you from viruses and bacteria. Eating healthy is very necessary for a system to work effectively. So, remember to create for your own and family members a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Also, combine healthy eating with regular exercise and sleeping enough will bring more good results.
Take some supplements.
Vitamins like A, C, E and D are very helpful in maintaining good health and decreasing the possibility of developing inflammation around the brain and spinal cord. The B family of vitamins supports the immune system as well as the nervous system, making it even harder for meningitis to develop. Don't forget fish oils and other sources of fatty acids that help decrease inflammation in general and serve as food for the immune system.
How to Treat Meningitis
(1) Treatment for Viral Meningitis
Antibiotics can't cure viral meningitis, and most cases improve on their own in several weeks. Treatment of mild cases of viral meningitis usually includes:
- Bed rest
- Plenty of fluids
- Over-the-counter pain medications to help reduce fever and relieve body aches
(2) Treatment for Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial Meningitis must be treated immediately with intravenous antibiotics and, more recently, corticosteroids. This helps to ensure recovery and reduce the risk of complications, such as brain swelling and seizures.
The antibiotic or combination of antibiotics depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Your doctor may recommend a broad-spectrum antibiotic until he or she can determine the exact cause of the meningitis.
(3) Treatment for Fungal Meningitis
If fungal meningitis is suspected, the most secure diagnosis is made with a lumbar puncture or spinal tap. The cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is withdrawn and the examined under the microscope by the physician. The fluid is also sent to a laboratory where the fungus is isolated and grown.
(4) Treatment for Parasitic Meningitis
The most common types of treatment for Meningitis caused by these parasites are for the symptoms—such as pain medication for headache or medications to reduce the body’s reaction to the parasite—rather than for the infection itself. However, treatment for the infection might help some people.
(5) Treatment for Non-Infectious Meningitis
If the cause of your meningitis is unclear, your doctor may start antiviral and antibiotic treatment while the cause is determined.
Chronic meningitis is treated based on the underlying cause. Antifungal medications treat fungal meningitis and a combination of specific antibiotics can treat tuberculous meningitis. However, these medications can have serious side effects, so treatment may be deferred until a laboratory can confirm that the cause is fungal. Chronic meningitis is treated based on the underlying cause.
Noninfectious meningitis due to allergic reaction or autoimmune disease may be treated with corticosteroids. In some cases no treatment may be required, because the condition can resolve on its own. Cancer-related meningitis requires therapy for the individual cancer.
Meningitis Home Remedies/Home Cure
(1) Astragalus: Although the name might be hard to say, the effects of this herb are not hard to see! With a host of saponins and flavonoids, this often overlooked herb is able to rapidly bring the immune system back to normal and clear up many of the most uncomfortable symptoms of meningitis. Astragalus is considered one of the most effective home remedies for this terrible condition.
(2) Garlic Garlic:Garlic is used both medicinally and as a food spice. Preliminary research suggests that oral plus intravenous garlic may help manage symptoms of cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection that commonly occurs in HIV patients. Further research is needed before recommending for or against the use of garlic in the treatment of this potentially serious condition, for which other treatments are available.
(3) Ginseng: Preliminary study of Xuesaitong injection (XSTI, a preparation of Panax notoginseng) reports that it may help to decrease intracranial pressure and benefit coma patients. Further study is needed to confirm these results. Avoid with known allergy to plants in the Araliaceae family. There has been a report of a serious life-threatening skin reaction, possibly caused by contaminants in ginseng formulations.Reishi mushrooms: These powerful fungi have been relief on for centuries in certain parts of the world due to their medicinal benefits, and in terms of meningitis, the triterpenes and polysaccharides found in reishi mushrooms promote a stronger immune system and can help to reduce the dangerous inflammation caused by this disease.
(4) Bed Rest: Although this seems like an obvious suggestion for someone suffering from such a dangerous disease, many people do not treat it as seriously as they should. The compromised immune system caused by meningitis means that any further exposure to pathogens or viruses can make the entire situation even more complicated. Therefore, a patient should get comfortable, stock up on books and movies, and stay in bed until their body can naturally heal. Unnecessary exposure to temperature changes and germ-heavy environments should be avoided to speed up the recovery process.
(5) Chlorella: It is a small plant that contains more quantity of chlorophyll, which carries oxygen around the blood and prepares the red blood cell count. The blood streams will be purified and cleaned by this process. More than 20 vitamins and minerals are available in chlorophyll, and all are in highly bio-available form.The vitamins and minerals that are found in Chlorella can be easily absorbed and digested completely unlike the synthetically produced supplements. For the recovery of the meningitis, it is used as a supernatural remedy. It is the best home remedy for the meningitis.
(6) Cold Packs: The body temperature of the meningitis patient remains very high due to fever. So, cold packs should be applied to the body if the body temperature is above 102 degrees Fahrenheit. For this, you have to take a big square piece of linen material and wrap it around the body of the patient after submerging the material in water and now cover it with a small blanket. You have to do this at a gap of three hours throughout the day.
(7) Neutral Bath: When suffering from meningitis, the body experiences a wide temperature array, particularly when the blood is rushing around the body to the brain and spinal cord, attempting to treat the problem, but often exacerbating it with more inflammation. When you slide into a neutral temperature bath, your blood will respond accordingly and redistribute properly throughout your body, thereby easing the inflammation and discomfort in the brain and spinal cord, effectively treating some of the symptoms.
(8) Olive Leaf Extract: For a proper herbal approach to treating meningitis, you can turn to olive leaf extract, which is praised for its antiviral and antioxidant properties, in addition to its proven anti-inflammatory abilities. When it comes to meningitis, you can take olive leaf extracts in any number of forms to reduce inflammation, lower fever, and ease pain and discomfort associated with this serious condition.
(9) Complications of Meningitis
• Bone and joint problems, such as arthritis
• Co-ordination, movement and balance problems
• Hearing loss, which may be partial or total – people who have had meningitis will usually have a hearing test after a few weeks to check for any problems
• Kidney problems
• Learning difficulties and behavioural problems
• Loss of limbs – amputation is sometimes necessary to stop the infection spreading through the body and remove damaged tissue
• Problems with memory and concentration
• Recurrent seizures (epilepsy)
• Vision loss, which may be partial or total