8 Factoids about Meningitis
1. Meningitis involves inflammation and swelling around the spinal cord, typically due to infection, which then causes headache, fever and stiff neck to develop.
2. Infections leading to meningitis are typically viral but can also be bacterial or fungal. Due to seriousness of infection as well as complications, meningitis can be a serious medical condition, so it is important to see a doctor if symptoms develop.
3. Meningitis symptoms develop and worsen over the course of a day or two, and are similar to that of flu. A high fever, severe headache that may cause vomiting or seizure and stiff neck are considered the hallmark symptoms.
4. Infants have a different set of symptoms, including constant crying which may worsen when picked up and held, excessive sleepiness and crankiness, not eating, a bulge in the soft spot of the head, and stiff body or neck.
5. Viral meningitis is typically less serious and goes away without treatment. Bacterial meningitis can develop quickly and have serious complications if not treated promptly. Due to this difference, it is important to determine what is causing the meningitis to determine how to treat it.
6. Viral meningitis is most common among young children under 5, and bacterial meningitis is most common among those in their twenties. Before childhood meningitis vaccines became widespread in the 1980s, bacterial meningitis had a median age of diagnosis of 15 months old.
7. Those with weakened immune systems, people living in a community or spending large periods of time in child care facilities, pregnant women, unborn babies and those working with animals are at risk for developing types of meningitis.
8. Prompt treatment of meningitis is important to avoid a large variety of serious and sometimes permanent complications, including seizures, hearing loss, blindness, learning disabilities, speech problems, behavior problems, paralysis, brain damage, kidney failure and adrenal failure. Bacterial meningitis in particular can progress very quickly, causing first shock and even death.
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