Understanding Viral Meningitis

Meningitis is condition characterized by the inflammation of the membranes, or meninges, and the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. The inflammation is usually the result of a spreading infection that affects the brain. The infection can mainly be brought about by a virus, although an untreated bacterial or fungal infection can also lead to meningitis.

Causes of meningitis

The main cause of meningitis is a viral infection. There are also cases where the condition might be caused by a bacterial infection, which are considered the most damaging, as well as a fungal infection.

Viral meningitis account for a greater number of cases annually. This type of meningitis is usually mild and can often clear itself in a span of two weeks.

Acute bacterial meningitis occurs when an infectious bacteria enters into the bloodstream and then migrates into the brain and the spinal cord. There are also some bacteria that directly invade the meninges or membranes in the brain as a result of a sinus infection or a skull fracture.

Fungal meningitis is considered rare and usually affects people with impaired immune defenses. Other non infectious causes of meningitis include drug allergies, certain types of cancers and inflammatory diseases.

Symptoms of meningitis

Symptoms of meningitis may sometime be similar to those presented by people suffering from flu. The symptoms may develop within a day or two which includes a high fever, severe headache with nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms include seizures, difficulty staying awake, loss of appetite, as well as confusion and skin rashes.

How meningitis is diagnosed?

Diagnosis for meningitis includes a physical examination, evaluation of one’s medical history and some diagnostic tests. Doctors may be looking into infections in the head, ears, throat or the area running along the spine.

Some of the diagnostic tests may include getting a throat culture, taking x-ray and CT scans to reveal any swellings, a spinal tap to get a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid for further testing of infection.

How to prevent meningitis?

Since most meningitis come as a result of severe infections, avoiding possible viral and bacterial infections become the primary means of prevention. Staying clean by frequently washing hands may help prevent exposure to infections that may lead to meningitis.

Covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing may also help prevent infecting others. Generally trying to stay healthy and maintaining a good immune system may be a good means of preventive practice against meningitis.

How to treat meningitis?

Treatment for meningitis usually starts by treating the underlying infection that is causing it. Treatment would include using antibiotics especially for bacterial meningitis to ensure recovery and avoid further complications.