Meningitis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the meninges surrounding your spinal cord and brain. Its inflammation triggers several symptoms. Some cases of the disease can be treated in a few weeks while others can be fatal and require immediate antibiotic treatment. It is absolutely necessary to seek immediate attention if you suspect meningitis. Early symptoms of the disease may mimic influenza and it may take a few hours or several days for the symptoms to develop. Early treatment for meningitis is key to boosting your chances of survival and can avoid certain complications. Before discussing the treatment methods for the forms of the disease, let’s discuss the common symptoms of meningitis and ways to treat it.
Most cases of the disease in the country are caused by a viral infection. Other causes include fungal and bacterial infections. Cancer and autoimmune disease may lead to the onset of the disease as well. Here are a few of the common symptoms and signs of the disease for anyone aged 2 years and above.
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache
- Sudden high fever
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of appetite
- No thirst
- Skin rashes
- Sleepiness or difficulty in waking up
- Nausea and vomiting
Getting yourself vaccinated is the key to protecting yourself from the three most common bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis. These bacteria commonly affect adults and children alike. Meningitis vaccines can cure certain meningitis causing viruses as well so do try them out. Getting vaccinated is one of the easiest forms of treatment for meningitis. These vaccines though cannot protect you from non-infectious causes of meningitis, which include autoimmune disorders and cancer.
Bacterial meningitis and its treatment
Antibiotics are generally used to treat bacterial meningitis. You will be treated with one or more antibiotics. These target the bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics are the key to the treatment of bacterial meningitis.
Viral Meningitis and Its Treatment
While antibiotics are used to treat people suffering from bacterial meningitis, they have no effect on those suffering from viral meningitis. Sadly, antibiotics cannot kill viruses. If you have been diagnosed with viral meningitis, you will be taken off the antibiotic therapy you were initially being given. Viral meningitis is mild as compared to its bacterial form. There is no specific treatment for the same and patients usually recover from the disease within 7 to 10 days of rest. Maintain a proper fluid intake and consume over the counter pain medication and fever reducers. If you have meningitis caused by influenza or a herpes virus, your doctor may prescribe the use of an antiviral medication. Different medications are also used as a treatment for meningitis caused by viruses:
- Some medications treat CMV meningitis by boosting the weakened immune system of the sufferer. This helps you to fight the disease better.
- Some medications are solely used to treat people suffering from meningitis caused by the herpes simplex virus.
Other treatment methods
Fungal meningitis can be treated with a long course of high dosage IV antifungal medications. Depending on the type of infection, other antifungal medicines may be used as well. Cryptococcal meningitis can be treated with amphotericin B. It can also be used to treat cases of meningitis caused by a parasite. Corticosteroids can be used to treat the inflammation caused by meningitis. This is most important when treating bacterial meningitis. Steroids are given in conjunction with antibiotics to cater to this condition.
Preventive measures to follow
There are several things you can do to avoid the possibility of the onset of meningitis. Take all your vaccinations on time as skipping scheduled vaccines can raise the risk of you getting affected by the disease.
Stay in clean environments as the risk of acquiring the bacterial variant of the disease increases in poorly kept community settings. Avoid consuming too much alcohol as it impacts your immune system and makes it incapable of fighting meningitis.
AIDS and diabetes impact the immune system as well. Get yourself vaccinated if you have your spleen removed as getting it removed increases your risk of getting meningitis. If you are already suffering from the disease, seek treatment for meningitis immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.