What is Meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection of the meninges that potentially threaten to the patient’s life (meninges is a membrane surrounding tissue to make brain and spinal cord). If it is untreated, meningitis can lead to brain swelling and cause permanent paralysis, coma and possibly death .
Meningitis has many causes, including infection, viruses, fungi, side effects of drugs, toxic substances from the environment such as heavy metals. Meningitis bacteria and fungus need to be hospitalized, while viral meningitis is usually treated at home and have much better prognosis .
What causes Meningitis?
Normally, the brain is protected from the effects of the immune system of the body by barriers that membrane built to separate the brain and blood. In normal condition, this helps prevent the body mobilize the immune response to attack itself. But in patients with meningitis, it can become a problem .
Once bacteria or other microorganisms find their way to the brain, they are partially insulated from the immune system and thus, can develop. However, when the body finally begins to find a way to fight back, the problem becomes more serious .
When the body reacts, blood vessels begin to allow plasma, leukocytes and other anti-infective agents into the brain causing meningitis and brain edema, and ultimately can lead to decreased blood flow to the brain, which makes symptoms become more severe .
- Meningitis is caused by many types of germs. The common bacteria include Streptococcus pneumonia, Neisseria meningitides, which can cause epidemics in crowded living conditions like dormitories or military barracks. Hemophilic influenza type B (Hib) can also cause meningitis in adults and children, but it is less common today because the children have been vaccinated against Hib.
- Bacterial meningitis appears due to many reasons. Usually it is a consequence of bacterial infection that already exists in the nose and mouth. These bacteria enter the bloodstream and reside outside the brain membranes (meninges).
- Meningitis may also be a result of the infection that occurs near the brain as in ear or sinus. It also would be a complication of brain, head or neck
The incidence of meningitis in men and women is equal. People who are at higher risk of meningitis than others are :
- Over 60 years old
- Less than 5 years
- Being sickle
- Have cancer, especially chemotherapy
- Patients who are using the transplant and immunosuppressive drugs
- Have contact with patients with meningitis in recent times
- Diabetes patients
- People who live in dormitories (military barracks, collective living areas)
- Use of intravenous drugs
What are the symptoms of Meningitis?
Approximately 25% of patients with meningitis may develop symptoms within 24 hours. The remainders are usually within 1 to 7 days. Occasionally, some people use antibiotics to treat other infections, these symptoms may progress slowly and less severe. Patients with fungal meningitis (most people who were infected with HIV), may develop these symptoms within a few weeks   .
The classic symptoms
- Have the same
- Fever and chills
- Fear of light
- Seizures (occur in 1/3 patients with meningitis)
- The symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (cold, runny nose, dry sauce, cough, sore throat).
The atypical symptoms
- Weak localized or decreased sensation or movement, especially in the face
- Pain and swelling in joints
- Being a rash that looks like a bruise
Here are the top 6 most recommended tips for how to prevent meningitis that you can consider applying in order to prevent this infection as well as its related consequences.
1. Get Vaccinated
Getting vaccinated against meningitis is considered as the most popular and effective way to prevent the disease .
Nowadays, there are 2 main kinds of vaccines that are commonly used to protect you from meningitis. It is recommended that you should take a vaccine at age 11 or 12 and then have the second one when you are 16 or 18 years old. The reason for this is that people have more risk of getting meningitis between the ages of 16 and 21. If you plan to enter into the military or go traveling or migrate to another country in which meningitis is a common disease then take a vaccine is highly recommended  .
In addition, getting vaccines that prevent some common diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox is also very useful because they can protect you from these disease as well as viral meningitis.
It is the fact that you can easily getting meningitis without expectation if you exposure to respiratory or throat secretions — saliva, sputum, nasal mucus — of people who are getting infected through kissing or sharing personal items with them.
Therefore, our advice is that you should not share your items with other ones to keep you far from the disease. The items should not be shared includes drinking glasses, water bottles, straws, silverware, toothbrushes, lipsticks or lip glosses, and cigarettes. In return, do not use these items of your friends or people around you so that you can protect both yourself and your lovely ones from the risk of meningitis.
3. Have a Safe Distance from Infected People
Besides keeping your own items, it is necessary to get a safe distance from people who are getting meningitis.
Nose and throat secretions of infected people contain a lot of bacteria that can easily spread into the air through coughing and sneezing. If you are not far enough from them, you may get contact with these secretions and get the disease. The minimum distance should be at least 3 feet away from infected people. In return, you also need to be kind with people around when having coughing or sneezing by cover your mouth and nose with your own towel or cloth.
4. Keep Your Hands Clean
Like other kind of cold and flu viruses, viruses and bacteria directly cause meningitis and be transmitted through your hand into your mouth. Therefore, it is essential to always keep your hands clean.
You should always wash your hands with soap or hand-wash products especially after entering the bathroom, changing a diaper, spending time in a crowded place or coughing and sneezing. Wash your both hands carefully for about a minute then dry them thoroughly with a towel. A small activity can bring a big result!
5. Strengthen Your Immune System
In addition to protect yourself from outside factors, it is very important to protect from inside by strengthening your immune system.
If unfortunately you get exposure to factors that can cause meningitis, a good and healthy immune system will help in the situations like this. It works to fight against these factors and protect you from viruses and bacteria.
Eating healthy is very necessary for a system to work effectively. So, remember to create for your own and family members a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Also, combine healthy eating with regular exercise and sleeping enough will bring more good results.
Additionally, you can get many more other benefits from exercise. For further information, read more at How to Increase Hemoglobin Levels.
6. Take some Supplements
Increasing supplements some vitamins like A, C, D and E is very beneficial for your health because they can help maintain good health and reduce the risk of developing inflammation around the brain as well as spinal cord.
Fish oils and other sources of fatty acids are also helpful in preventing meningitis as they can help reduce the level of inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
Taking more supplements as mentioned above is necessary to make sure your body is strong both inside and outside so that you can be protected completely from the disease.
Above are some useful information about the meningitis and advices on how to prevent the disease. It is better to protect yourself from getting the disease rather than let the disease come and you have to find treatments for it. These advice are worth to follow carefully if you want to keep yourself and people around you away from meningitis.
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