Bacterial meningitis is not a simple disease that can easily be cured by the usual antibiotics you purchase over the counter. The patient will need hospitalization and strong intravenous antibiotics to fight the disease and prevent complications. If the patient does not receive prompt medical attention, he could suffer from permanent damages caused by the complications.
Bacterial Meningitis in a Nutshell
Bacterial meningitis is the inflammation of the nervous system's (brain and spinal cord) protective lining or meninges. There are a number of pathogenic organisms that cause bacterial meningitis, but the most common pathogens are Streptococcus pneumoniae (affects infants, children, adolescents, and young adults), Neisseria meningitides (affects infants, children, adolescents, young adults, and older people). You also have Group B Streptococcus (affects newborns) as well as Listeria monocytogenes (affects newborns and older people). Another pathogen that can cause bacterial meningitis is Escherichia coli (affects newborn).
Mode of Transmission
The mode of transmission of bacterial meningitis is direct contact with the respiratory secretion as well as oral and throat secretion of an infected person, such as kissing. It can also be transmitted through prolonged and direct exposure to an infected person.
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include fever of rapid onset, along with stiff neck and severe headache. In about 70% of patients, nuchal rigidity is present. Other symptoms include nausea as well as vomiting, together with photophobia or sensitivity to light and phonophobia or sensitivity to loud sounds. The patient also develops confusion and altered mental state. Lack of alertness, irritability, and poor appetite are also present. Untreated bacterial meningitis causes seizures, and the patient could also go into a coma.
Complications include sepsis or systemic infection, loss of hearing, learning difficulties and disabilities, as well as permanent damage to the brain.
Assessment and Diagnosis
Some tests that doctors use to assess patients suspected of bacterial meningitis are Brudzinski sign and Kernig's sign. Bacterial meningitis can be better diagnosed through laboratory tests such as cerebrospinal fluid testing.
As mentioned earlier, the patient will need strong antibiotics to combat the effects of the pathogens, especially since bacterial meningitis is considered to be a killer disease. He will need hospitalization for the wide-spectrum intravenous antibiotics as well as intravenous fluids to keep the patient hydrated and prevent shock and hypotension. Patients suffering from severe bacterial meningitis may also be admitted to the intensive care unit.
Bacterial meningitis takes lives, and if you survive the disease, you could end up with permanent disabilities, says Advantage Insurance Agency. This is why it is important that you complete the necessary vaccine dosages for this disease. Vaccines, especially if you have completed the immunization schedule recommended by the health department, can be very effective in protecting you and your family against the common pathogens that cause the killer disease. Ask your insurance company if they cover the costs of bacterial meningitis vaccines.
Another way to prevent bacterial meningitis is to maintain a very clean surrounding and a healthy lifestyle. Make sure your home has no pest infestation, and see to it that you eat healthy foods, get into a regular exercise program, avoid drinking and smoking, and get enough sleep.
[box type=”note”]About the Author: Jennifer Dahmer is a writer for health blogs. She writes about diseases that commonly affect children.[/box]