Monday, 7 May 2012

Meningitis


(Brain Spine infection)

An infection or inflammation of the meninges. The meninges cover the brain and spinal cord. A fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is contained within the meninges in an area named the subarachnoid space. Infections of the CSF are the most common cause of meningitis and these infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Viruses are the most common cause of this disorder and in general are not as serious as the other causes. If left untreated meningitis can lead to loss of hearing, brain damage and death. This disease can arise from an infection of the blood, or from an adjacent infection such as an infection of the ear, sinuses or nose. Many different bacteria can cause this disease but the most serious is meningococcal meningitis caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.


Symptoms:
Fever and chills, severe headache, confusion, nausea and vomiting, increased headache when exposed to light (photophobia), seizures, rash, and stiff neck (meningismus). In babies the symptoms may be fever, irritability, poor feeding, increase in sleeping, rash, seizures, bulging fontanel (soft spot on top of the head), and breathing problems.

Treatment:
To prevent permanent brain damage treatment with intravenous antibiotics should be started as soon as possible for meningitis caused by bacteria. An antiviral medication (acyclovir) will also be given if herpes is suspected. Treatment of the complications of this disease such as brain swelling or seizures will also be done.

A CT scan of the brain is usually performed to look for other causes of the symptoms and to identify any brain swelling. A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is performed to evaluate the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and confirm the diagnosis. CSF cultures and antibody testing are performed to identify the exact cause.

Other Specific Tests:
Lumbar puncture, CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) culture, Antibody testing of the CSF.