Meningitis is an extremely serious illness. Unfortunately, it is also a growing concern for healthcare professionals as more outbreaks are being reported. There have been four thousand cases in the United States in four years. The most common type is viral. However, there are actually five types that are associated with this diagnosis. Along with the viral type, the illness can be fungal, bacterial, parasitic, and non-infectious (caused by an auto-immune disorder or an allergic reaction). And like other illnesses, meningitis can be life-threatening – especially for people who have underlying conditions. Infants higher risk of developing severe complications.
This illness affects the meninges – which are the membranes that surround your brain and your spinal cord. The initial symptoms include a headache, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting. As the disease progresses, many people complain of increases sensitivity to light and mental confusion. Tests for meningitis include blood work, X-rays, and a spinal tap. The blood work analysis might take a few days. X-rays allow doctors to see if swelling is present in the spinal cord region or around the brain. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is a test that requires the removal of spinal fluid that is then tested to see if there are elevated levels of protein and white blood cells. Those could indicate an infection of the meninges.
Listeria meningitis is caused by a bacteria and can be very serious. It can cause severe complications in people who have weakened immune systems and/or the elderly. If left untreated, meningitis can lead to brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities. People who are at risk of developing the condition or who already have certain symptoms (such as the stiff neck, nausea, and confusion) should go directly to the emergency room.
Being diagnosed with haemophilus influenza or streptococcus pneumonia may lead to a higher incidence of developing actual meningitis. You are also at a higher risk if you aren’t up to date on your immunizations or you have a compromised immune system due to AIDS, an organ transplant or other underlying conditions. People who do not get vaccinated against this illness are more likely to develop it than people who do. It is also a common occurrence on many college campuses. This is why protecting yourself and taking care of your body is the best way to prevent it.