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What is Meningitis by Karla Posos

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The first few questions that are probably popping into your head right now are, ‘What is meningitis? Do I have meningitis? How do I treat it? How did I get this? Am I going to die!?’ Well, you’re in luck, because it turns out that I will, hopefully, be able to answer all your questions.

To begin with, meningitis is a disease that is caused by the protective membranes, covering your brain and spinal cord, to become inflamed.  These protective membranes are known as meninges, hence the name, meningitis.  Now, this inflammation is because the fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord has become infected.

Meningitis can develop because of bacteria, viruses, drugs, cancer, or even a physical injury.  One form of meningitis is caused by a virus entering your body from your nose or mouth and then traveling straight to your brain, called Viral Meningitis.  Another form of meningitis is a rare kind but is also deadly, and that form is termed Bacterial Meningitis.  This type of meningitis causes symptoms related to a cold, which is why most people mistake this kind of meningitis for a cold.  However, this type of meningitis, other than causing ‘cold-like’ symptoms, it also blocks blood vessels to the brain which could then lead to a stroke or brain damage.  You should always remain alert and informed!

To stay alert, you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of meningitis, and once you do you will be able to know the difference between a simple cold versus meningitis.  A persistent fever, severe headache, and stiffness in your neck are the three main symptoms you should keep an eye out for.  Other symptoms may include:

  • Persistent headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Little to no appetite
  • Feeling confused or disorientated
  • Feeling pain when touching the chin to the neck

Other severe symptoms can lead to seizures and a coma, which is why you should become familiar with these symptoms and seek medical help when you think you may have caught meningitis.

Once you have discovered or even think you may have meningitis you must seek medical attention!  You can’t treat this disease on your own because you will need antibiotic injections from your doctor.  Your doctor may also want to treat you for, depending on how early or late it has been detected, the damage this disease could have caused elsewhere in your body.  For example, your doctor could also have you treated for brain swelling or dehydration.  Your treatment will also consist of hours of bed rest and plenty of fluids.

To help prevent this, you must make sure to always wash your hands to help rid yourself of those infectious germs.  You will also want to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing to help others avoid catching one of your germs.  You must also try to avoid sharing food during the flu season, or any season in this case, however, sharing food is very common; just be sure to share food with those closest to you.  Eating healthy and staying healthy can also help decrease your chances of catching meningitis because you are allowing your immune system to build and stay strong.

Now that you are well-informed about meningitis, you are now able to answer your questions.  You now know what meningitis is, you know how it is treated, how you could have possibly caught this, and whether or not you are going to die, is entirely up to you!  Remember, you don’t want to wait too long, if you think you have meningitis, contact your doctor! The risks are not worth your life, waiting for your symptoms to get worse or better could cost you your life.


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Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology

Chapter 13 page 421


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