Bacterial Meningitis: Symptoms And Treatment

Bacterial Meningitis is an infection of meninges, the internal covering within the skull that covers and protects brain. This infection can be treated with antibiotics, and the patients can be saved if treatment is initiated in time. Otherwise it can result in fatal consequences.
Bacterial Meningitis: Symptoms and Treatment
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Bacterial Meningitis is one of the most dreaded and fatal diseases ever known to mankind, though the medical advances have now made it possible to treat it. It is a disease that worsens very fast, and provides symptoms, which can sometimes confuse it with psychiatric behavior. A greater awareness about it holds the key to quick uncomplicated remission.


Bacterial Meningitis: A Dreaded Disease

'Bacterial Meningitis' or 'Bacterial spinal meningitis' is the infection of meninges, the membranous coverings which protect the brain and the spinal cord. It is a life threatening condition if not treated immediately, but with appropriate anti-biotics in a

hospital setting, it can usually be treated with minimal long lasting damage.

Causes of Bacterial Meningitis

It is caused by infection by bacteria, like Streptococcus Pneumoniae, Neisseria Meningitidis and Haemophilus Influenzae.

Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is an acute condition, wherein symptoms progress very rapidly. It normally begins with headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, but very soon consciousness is also affected. In a matter of hours, the patient can become delirious and start behaving abnormally. As the disease worsens, patient may become irritable and even uncontrollable, with incoherence of speech. Subsequently delirium is replaced with semi-consciousness and later on total loss of consciousness.

One classical sign of meningitis is neck rigidity. Normally a person's neck can be bent, but in case of meningitis the patient will not be able to bend his neck if asked to do so. Even when the patient is unconscious it is not possible to bend the neck because of the neck rigidity. Another characteristic sign is that a patient of meningitis, lying on her back will be unable to lift the straight

foot up, because of the pain caused by this manoeuvre. This is known as 'Kernig's sign.'

Meningitis can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Features very similar to meningitis can also occur in intra-cerebral bleeding. The final diagnosis of bacterial meningitis depends on examination of the cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF), a fluid that separates the meninges from the brain and spinal cord, and is taken by a syringe inserted in the lower back. In case of bacterial meningitis, the CSF sugar level is low, while the albumin and white blood cell contents of CSF show significant rise, but there are no red blood cells.

Treatment of Bacterial Meningitis

Treatment consists mainly of antibiotics, administered intravenously. The treatment is begun immediately after the CSF is taken for examination, with broad spectrum antibiotics covering usual bacteria causing it. Once the bacterial culture report is available, antibiotic to which the bacteria shows maximum sensitivity can be used.

Supportive treatment is required to be given to treat fever and increased intracranial pressure. Intravenous mannitol and corticosteroids may be required sometimes to avoid complications.

Prevention of Bacterial Meningitis

Vaccination against the usual bacteria causing meningitis is available. In children vaccination against H. Influenzae is advisable, while in older patients vaccination against S. Pneumoniae is preferable.

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