Meningitis is when the meninges which are the membranes covering the spinal cord and the brain, become inflamed. It’s normally caused either by viruses or bacteria but can also develop because of other illnesses or certain drugs.
Meningitis caused by bacteria is extremely rare, and is normally very serious and life threatening if it is nor treated quickly. Meningitis caused by a virus is far less serious and fairly common.
Some of the viruses and bacteria that are the causes of meningitis are typically connected with other illnesses which are routine and fairly well known. Viruses and bacteria that can infect the skin, respiratory tract, urinary system, or gastrointestinal tract often can widen thru the blood system to the meninges thru cerebrospinal fluid which is the fluid that circulates in and round the spinal column.
In several cases of bacterial meningitis, the bacteria can reach to the meninges because of a rigorous head injury or a harsh infection that is local, such as a serious nasal or sinus infection or an infection of the ear.
The first symptoms to appear of viral or bacterial meningitis can start quickly or appear a few days after a child has developed a runny nose, or cold, vomiting and diarrhea or other symptoms of an infection. Some common signs include:
- Lethargy or decreased consciousness
- Skin rashes
- Photophobia or eyes which are sensitive to light
- Stiff neck
Other signs of meningitis in an infant may include:
- Fever or lower than normal temperature
- Stiffness of the neck and body known as neck rigidity
- Jaundice which is a yellowish tint to the skin
- Weak suck
- Poor feeding
- Bulging fontanelles which is the soft spot at the top and front of the baby’s skull
- A high-pitched cry
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