Meningitis is a condition characterized by inflammation that occurs in the lining of the meninges, which is the protective layer that covers the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms that often appear in people with meningitis are usually a high fever, stiff neck, headaches, seizures, constant drowsiness that makes it difficult to wake up, and vomiting. Meningitis can occur due to bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections. However, several other factors can trigger meningitis, such as autoimmune disorders (lupus), cancer drugs, syphilis, and tuberculosis.
Based on the causes and symptoms that arise, meningitis is divided into several types, one of which is bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis begins when bacteria enter the bloodstream from the sinuses, ears, or throat and are carried by the bloodstream to the brain. Bacteria that can cause meningitis include Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitides, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes. Meningitis caused by bacteria can cause brain damage and even life-threatening.
Other types of meningitis include viral meningitis, fungal meningitis, and parasitic meningitis. Viral meningitis is a type of meningitis that generally occurs, fungal meningitis is a type of meningitis that is more at risk of occurring in people with weak immune systems, for example, people with HIV / AIDS, while parasitic meningitis is a type of meningitis that occurs less frequently and does not spread among humans.
Several examination measures are needed to determine whether a person has meningitis or not, including interviews with a medical history, physical examination, blood tests, CT scan or MRI, and spinal tap or lumbar puncture. A physical examination is done to see the symptoms of meningitis by examining the condition of the ears, neck, head, and nerve pathways along the spine. A blood test is done to check if there are bacteria that cause meningitis in the patient's blood, a CT scan or MRI of the head is done to find out if there is swelling in the lining of the brain, while a spinal tap or lumbar puncture is done by taking a fluid sample from the patient's spine.
Meningitis treatment is based on the cause of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis requires treatment with antibiotics and corticosteroids to relieve inflammation and usually requires medical treatment to reduce and control common symptoms, such as seizures. Likewise, with treatment for viral meningitis, the doctor will prescribe antiviral. People who have viral meningitis are also advised to get plenty of rest, consume lots of fluids, and take pain medication if they feel fever or sick. Fungal meningitis can be treated using antifungal drugs.
Meningitis is very dangerous, even life-threatening if not taken seriously. Therefore, let’s prevent meningitis starting from maintaining hygiene and live a healthy lifestyle to improve immune system. Also, make sure that children are given the complete vaccine and avoid places with conditions that can lead to the spread of meningitis infection. It is advisable to carry out a meningitis vaccine before traveling to areas where meningitis is endemic, such as Saudi Arabia and Africa.
Mayo Clinic (2018). Diseases and Conditions. Meningitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350514
WebMD (2018). Meningitis Symptoms Warning Signs. https://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/meningitis-symptoms-warning-signs