Meningitis describes an inflammation of the membranes around your brain and spinal cord. The most commonly found types are viral and bacterial. Most healthy people are not at risk for the disease. However, if you have a damaged or missing spleen, have an immune system disorder or you are dealing with a long-term disease, you could be at risk.
Although meningitis is most often found in babies and people under the age of 20, the disease can also found in the over-55 population, especially when seniors live in small, close communities.
A person with meningitis has an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. There are several types of meningitis, and they vary in virility. Some cause a minor infection that most people recover from, and some are deadly. Meningitis is generally spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing and close community contact. The disease mimics other illnesses such as the flu, which can make it difficult to diagnose. If a physician suspects meningitis or meningococcal disease, a sample of fluid from the spinal canal will be taken for testing.
The most common cause of meningitis in the United States is viral, but bacterial and fungal infections also occur. The most dangerous type is bacterial meningitis, which can be deadly if not immediately treated with antibiotics. Most people recover, but the disease can result in permanent disabilities.
Certain people may be at an increased risk of developing meningitis. The risk increases if you are living in a community setting, travel to places where the disease is more common (sub-Saharan Africa), or if you have certain medical conditions. Meningitis is often diagnosed in babies or people under 20, but can also occur in nursing homes.
Complications of meningitis can be serious. If left untreated, the virus or bacteria can cause permanent neurological damage. These include:
People over the age of 55 who have a damaged or missing spleen, are dealing with a long-term disease or have immune system disorders are at risk for meningitis. People who live in community situations such as nursing homes can be more prone to the disease. For people in these categories, having a medical alert system nearby could be a lifesaver. The disease can come on quickly and can progress quickly, as well. If you experience some of the symptoms listed below, you should contact medical help immediately.
Most meningococcal infections cause similar symptoms, such as:
In addition to vomiting, some strains of the disease cause diarrhea. Meningitis can cause lifelong disabilities, so it is important to get help quickly if you suspect you might have meningitis.
Bacterial meningitis progresses quickly and must be treated right away, so if you happen to have a medical alert system, it would be wise to use it in this case.
Most people who are healthy are not at risk for meningitis unless they travel to areas where the disease is prevalent or are in a situation where certain types are common. Those who have illnesses that can affect the immune system should be aware of the risk of meningitis, and do what they can to prevent exposure.
You should check with your doctor about a meningococcal vaccine.Most cases of meningitis are viral in nature, and people who have this type of meningitis get better on their own without specific treatments. As with most viruses, they require:
Meningitis is caused by bacteria or viruses that are spread through bodily fluids, such as through kissing, coughing or sneezing. If you are at risk of contracting meningitis, stay away from people who have been diagnosed, or those that you suspect might have the disease. Keep in mind that there are carriers, or people who carry the disease but do not become ill.
If you do contract meningitis, be sure to see your doctor or go to a hospital immediately. The most common strains, bacterial and viral, have similar symptoms, and you don’t want to make an inaccurate assumption that could lead to a deadly outcome.
Medical alerts are useful when you become ill over a short period of time or your safety is at risk. In the case of meningitis, a medical alert system would be useful if you happen to become sick and need attention immediately. Otherwise, it is something that would be nice to have to ensure you and your family can receive care in a short period of time.