What You Need To Know About Meningitis


Colleges across the United States and Canada will soon be back in session, with millions of students heading off in pursuit of academic excellence. While classes are on the mind of most students, college officials are keeping their eye on a growing threat in the form of the H1N1 virus a/k/a swine flu. Only discovered this past April, H1N1 has proven to be deadly and could alter the academic calendar at some schools should an outbreak occur. But as big as swine flu may be, there is another killer that has been around for many years, meningitis, which is disease that comes up without warning and kills quickly.

healthLet’s take a look at meningitis and how this disease spreads and what you can do about it:

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), meningitis is mostly caused by microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. These microorganisms infect blood and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Meningitis can also develop from non-infectious causes, including certain diseases like AIDS, cancer, diabetes, physical injury, or certain drugs that weaken the body’s immune system.

Bacterial meningitis is usually more severe than viral meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can have serious after-effects, such as brain damage, hearing loss, limb amputation, or learning disabilities. Viral meningitis is generally less severe and resolves without specific treatment. Most viral meningitis cases in the United States, especially during the summer months, are caused by enteroviruses; however, only a small number of people with enterovirus infections actually develop meningitis.

Meningitis infection is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
* Altered mental status

Bacterial Meningitis

The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure.

Although the early symptoms of viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis may be similar, later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very severe (e.g., seizures, coma). For this reason, if you think you or someone else may have meningitis, see a physician as soon as possible.

Viral Meningitis

Viral meningitis is an infection of the meninges (the covering of the brain and spinal cord) that is caused by a virus. Enteroviruses, the most common cause of viral meningitis, appear most often during the summer and fall in temperate climates.

Viral meningitis can affect babies, children, and adults. It is usually less severe than bacterial meningitis and normally clears up without specific treatment. The symptoms of viral meningitis are similar to those for bacterial meningitis, which can be fatal. Because of this, it is important to see a healthcare provider right away if you think you or your child might have meningitis.

Treatment For Meningitis

Viral forms of meningitis cannot be treated with drugs while bacterial can respond accordingly. Viral meningitis infections normally last for seven to ten days while a variety of effective antibiotics can be used to combat bacterial meningitis, provided that treatment is begun early. Even with drugs, the death rate for this disease is about 15%.

SayCampusLife.com will pass along additional health tips over the coming year, including more detailed information about the H1N1 virus. Special thanks to the Centers for Disease Control for supplying the bulk of the information for this article.

Source: Centers For Disease Control

Adv. – With the start of college imminent, do you have all of your finances in order? If not, you may need to secure a private student loan to help close the financing gap. Please visit SayStudent.com for review your private student loan options.


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Categories: Personal Advice