Meningitis is one of the serious, sometimes life-threatening diseases that babies and children can have.
At first, it can hardly be distinguished from the flu, chaktty warns.
Meningitis: acting quickly is important
In meningitis, bacteria or viruses cause inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
The disease can develop within a few hours, says Healthpally editor.
If it is not recognized and treated in good time, it can lead to permanent damage such as movement disorders and hearing damage to deafness or impaired intellectual development of the babies, or even death.
Bacterial or viral: the causes of meningitis
Doctors differentiate between meningitis caused by viruses or bacteria. Virally caused meningitis is often easier than bacterial.
Viral meningitis is not only transmitted from person to person. Ticks can also transmit (TBE) viruses with their bites, which cause viral meningitis.
If bacteria are the causes , there is a risk of sepsis (blood poisoning).
The pathogens enter the bloodstream via the inflamed areas and thus reach the entire body.
Ways of transmission and symptoms of meningitis
Like many other infectious diseases, meningitis is often transmitted via airborne droplets.
Talking to sick people or their coughing and sneezing can lead to infection.
The pathogens do not always trigger meningitis. Some people who carry the pathogen and pass it on do not develop an illness at all.
If a family member has bacterial meningitis, people living in the household are often treated with antibiotics as a precaution to avoid further illnesses.
However, antibiotics do not help against viral meningitis.
The symptoms at the onset of the disease are similar for the viral and bacterial forms.
Which of the following symptoms appear is completely individual:
- Severe whining, crying or whimpering,
- Constantly touching the head,
- Refusing to eat.
If the following symptoms are added, parents should see a doctor immediately:
- Neck stiffness,
- Touch sensitivity,
- limp posture,
- apathetic behavior,
- lack of reactions, for example, when spoken to,
- severe drowsiness,
- a bulging fontanel (the soft area on the top of the head) in babies,
- a purple-shimmering rash.
The latter symptoms often only appear when the disease is well advanced.
Before that, meningitis can hardly be differentiated from a flu-like infection or flu.
For this reason, do not hesitate to see a doctor in the course of a supposed cold and your baby’s behavior seem strange to you, Healthpally warned again.
The diagnosis and treatment
Meningitis is diagnosed based on symptoms in connection with a blood test and/or a lumbar puncture.
With a lumbar puncture, a puncture is made in the spinal canal (lower back) to obtain and examine nerve fluid.
Progressive sepsis can often be recognized by the skin texture of the person affected.
It appears in various places on the body in reddish-purple.
On closer inspection, the discolored areas are made up of many small, pinprick-like spots.
As soon as you suspect that such a rash exists, you must take your child straight to a hospital. In the next few hours, there may be mortal danger.
Once meningitis and its pathogens have been identified, treatment can begin.
While in the case of viral meningitis it is mainly necessary to rest, in the case of bacterial meningitis antibiotic treatment is given immediately (often via infusion).
In some cases, the inflammation can spread from the meninges to the brain below, which is known as encephalitis.
This is typically caused by herpes, measles, or TBE viruses.
Depending on the severity of the disease, a stay in the intensive care unit, artificial nutrition, and additional oxygen supply or artificial ventilation may be necessary.
Possible preventive measures
You can protect yourself against some meningitis pathogens with vaccinations.
That is why many doctors recommend the following vaccinations:
- Haemophilus influenza type B vaccination,
- Pneumococcal vaccination
- Meningococcal C vaccination
- TBE vaccination (in risk areas).
Vaccination against measles also protects against meningitis caused by measles viruses. Other vaccines are currently in development.
Various Healthpally studies in the US have also revealed a link between smoking and the development of meningitis.
Some medical professionals, therefore, see avoiding passive smoking as a preventive measure.
Some sexpally studies have shown that children who have been breastfed for more than 3 months are less likely to develop meningitis.
Meningitis can cause permanent physical damage
It can be life-threatening if blood poisoning develops as a result
Blood poisoning can be identified by a purple rash that can spread all over the body
If you have a rash like this, you need urgent medical help
If you have flu-like symptoms, see your pediatrician to clarify the possibility of meningitis