Acute meningitis is characterized as a life-threatening inflammation of the tissue layers surrounding the brain and spinal cord often due to a viral or bacterial infection. The symptoms usually develop over a few hours up to days. If caused by a virus, it is less severe than one caused by bacteria.
Remember that timing is vital. Most cases of acute meningitis that is bacterial in nature can be managed using antibiotics. A delay in the diagnosis can lead to the rapid progression of the symptoms and eventually death.
What are the indications of acute meningitis?
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Increased light sensitivity
- Generalized aches
- Neck stiffness
- Irritability in children
- Lethargy or malaise
- Diminished appetite in children or infants
- Rash with small hemorrhage
What are the risk factors?
Various factors increase the risk for developing acute meningitis. The usual risk factors include the following:
- Being exposed to insects or animals that are carriers of the disease
- Working in a daycare or school setting
- Certain forms of cancer
- Being exposed to an infected individual
- Certain medications
- Head injuries or surgical procedures
- Not regularly washing hands
- Not vaccinated against the disease
- Otitis media
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Weak immune system
Avoidance of the condition is vital. There are effective vaccinations that have been developed to fight the 3 common causes of the bacterial type. Aside from preventive measures, the treatment for acute meningitis is based on the cause.
Acute viral meningitis
If acute meningitis is viral in nature, it often settles on its own, thus the objective of treatment is to provide comfort and prevent any complications. The treatment includes the following:
- Proper hydration either intravenously or orally
- Anticonvulsant medications that prevent seizures in severe cases
- Adequate rest
- Anti-nausea medications
- Prescription pain medications
- Over-the-counter analgesic medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Oxygen therapy
Acute bacterial meningitis
Antibiotics are required in managing acute meningitis that is bacterial in nature. The recommended course must be carefully followed to prevent any complications.