Meningitis

AP Environmental Science

General Overview

Meningitis is the inflammation of the three membranes that envelope the brain and spinal cord. Together these membranes are called meninges. There are two forms of meningitis, bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis. Viral meningitis is the most common and least dangerous. Oppose to bacterial meningitis which isn't very common yet can prove fatal in some cases.

Causes

Bacterial: Bacterial Meningitis is caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream but it can also be caused by bacteria directly invading the meninges as a result of something such as an ear infection.

Viral: Viral Meningitis (the most common form) is caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses. Viruses such as herpes simplex virus, HIV, mumps, West Nile virus and others also can cause viral meningitis.

Incidence

In the United States alone about 4,000 people are affected by meningitis. Around 70 percent of those people are either under the age of 5 or over the age of 60. Almost all of which are cases of viral meningitis.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common signs and or symptoms of meningitis are a stiff/sore neck, headaches, and a fever. Many people mistake the early signs of meningitis as the flu. Often viral meningitis will cure itself after time however bacterial is more serious needing immediate medical attention, as delaying attention may prove fatal.

Diagnosis

To properly diagnose meningitis a spinal tap is required to get an analysis of your cerebrospinal fluids or CNF. However, meningitis can also be diagnosed with a series of x-rays and or CT scans along with the drawing of blood to search for bacteria.

Treatment

As previously mentioned viral meningitis is often cured on its own by the immune system putting itself to work kicking out the virus, along with a few over the counter meds to control pain and fever. Bacterial meningitis however, is another story. A doctor will most often prescribe an antibiotic or multiple antibiotics to ensure the recovery of the patient.

Prevention

Typically people are given a vaccine for meningitis at the age of 11 or 12 years. But the best way to keep yourself meningitis free would be to wash your hands, stay healthy, and practice good hygiene.

Works Cited

"Health News and Information - News Medical." News-Medical.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.

"WebMD - Better Information. Better Health." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.