Three thin membranes, including the dura mater, pia mater, and arachnoid, cover the brain and spinal cord. Collectively, they are referred to as the meninges. When the meninges become inflamed, it is usually due to an infection sparked by a viral or bacterial agent.
Viral meningitis, which occurs more frequently than the bacterial kind, is typically not as serious . On the other hand, meningitis that stems from bacteria may be life-threatening if not treated appropriately and immediately. The meningitis outbreaks affecting young grade school and college students that have been publicized by the media are usually of the bacterial kind; these can be very dangerous.
The symptoms associated with viral and bacterial meningitis are similar. Headaches are the principal complaint of individuals affected by meningitis, but fever and stiff neck are also prevalent. Craning the neck forward often worsens the pain. The headache often spreads throughout the entire head. In the most serious cases, the person may experience bouts of exhaustion and confusion. Unlike encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain tissue, it is rather uncommon for someone suffering from meningitis to have a seizure. There is not much of a delay between the onset of meningitis and the inception of the headache and fever symptoms. However, prior to this, the patient normally contracts an upper respiratory infection or a sore throat. The presence of a sinus or lung infection may contaminate the bloodstream with bacteria, which is then transported throughout the body and introduced to the meninges.
In order to evaluate a potential meningitis patient, a physician must perform a spinal tap and analyze the spinal fluid before a diagnosis is made. To determine whether the person is suffering from bacterial or viral meningitis, the doctor will stain for bacteria and take into account the number and strands of white blood cells in the body.
If the patient is displaying traits of bacterial meningitis, the physician should prescribe antibiotics without hesitation. Treatment for viral meningitis involves lowering the fever, using analgesics for the headache, and administering IV fluids.
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