Meningitis: truth and myth
“Do not go without a hat, you will chill your head, you will get sick with meningitis,” the mothers of the children scare. Where did the myth come from that the cause of meningitis is hypothermia of the head? The only explanation is that if the head is frozen, the defenses may weaken and will not be able to effectively fight the infection (and meningitis is an infectious disease).
What is meningitis
Meningitis is an infectious inflammatory disease in which the soft membranes of the brain and spinal cord are affected. Both adults and children are ill with them. Meningitis can be primary, when the brain is immediately affected, and secondary, as a complication of other diseases, such as otitis media, measles, mumps (mumps), as well as head injuries.
The causative agents of meningitis are bacteria, viruses, fungi. An infection is transmitted most often by airborne droplets from a sick person, but you can get infected through water and food, insect bites. A newborn can become infected from the mother during childbirth.
Types of Meningitis
Depending on the route of infection, meningitis is divided, as already mentioned, into primary and secondary.
For reasons of occurrence, there are viral, bacterial, tuberculous meningitis.
Another division – according to the state of cerebrospinal fluid – cerebrospinal fluid. The fact is that the membranes of the brain are in contact with the cerebrospinal fluid. If the cerebrospinal fluid is transparent, they speak of a serous form, a muddy cerebrospinal fluid indicates purulent meningitis.
Most often, bacterial meningococcal meningitis occurs.
Course of the disease
A characteristic feature of meningitis is the sudden onset and rapid course of the disease: it develops in a few days. The disease begins with brain symptoms, which are called “meningial syndrome.” They arise due to increased intracranial pressure. This is a headache of a bursting nature, pressing on the eyes and ears, high fever, intolerance to light, loud noises, nausea and vomiting, independent of food and not bringing relief. Rash, cramps may appear. A distinctive feature of meningitis is the tension in the muscles of the neck, due to which the patient arches his back, and his legs bent at the knees lead to the stomach.
With the favorable development of the disease, the temperature gradually decreases, the symptoms subside and the recovery phase begins. The disease lasts from 2 to 6 weeks.
But there are cases of adverse development of meningitis: after a week of illness, the patient falls into a coma, cramps become more frequent, paralysis of the facial muscles develops and death occurs. Sometimes there is lightning-fast development of the disease, and in just a few hours the patient dies.
The deaths described above are not so common. In addition, the viral form of the disease is easier and the prognosis is more favorable. However, any form of meningitis requires immediate treatment. With bacterial meningitis, these are antibiotics, with viral meningitis, symptom relief.
By the way, another myth about meningitis: supposedly a disease almost always leads to mental retardation. It’s a delusion. With proper treatment on time, usually no intellectual disruption occurs. Possible residual effects in the form of increased irritability, lethargy, if treatment was not started immediately. Severe complications with proper treatment are extremely rare.
What to look for
Meningitis is a formidable, severe and dangerous disease. The results of treatment largely depend on how quickly it was started. Therefore, at the first suspicion of meningitis, you should literally immediately call an ambulance. Do not miss these signs:
High fever plus pain in the neck and back. When moving the head, the pain intensifies.
In an infectious disease – acute respiratory infection, mumps, measles, herpes on the lip, a very severe, unbearable headache suddenly occurs.
Nausea, vomiting, not dependent on food. After vomiting, the condition does not improve.
Rash at high temperature.
You can protect yourself and your child from meningitis with vaccination. True, a single vaccination against this disease does not exist, since various pathogens cause it. There are vaccines against meningococcal infection, pneumococcus and hemophilic bacillus. These vaccinations are not included in the vaccination calendar, but they can be paid. Vaccination is recommended for children, as well as for adults at risk: often suffering from pneumonia, otitis media, and respiratory infections.