What is meningitis? Causes, symptoms, complications, prevention and treatment

Meningitis is caused by inflammation of the meninges (inner layers of the skull). Infection (bacterial, viral, fungal) is the main cause of meningitis, but other factors such as head injury, cancer or some drugs may also cause it. Its symptoms include headache, inflexibility of the neck and sudden fever, although the severity of these symptoms will vary based on the age of the patient and the type of disease. Cerebrospinal fluid is examined to confirm meningitis and disease treatment options will be suggested depending on the type. In this article from the section diseasesHi doctor, we are going to check for meningitis.

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a condition in which any of the meninges become damaged or inflamed. The meninges are the three layers of protective tissue that surround the brain (dura, arachnoid, and pia). This complication is caused by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) infection or meninges infection. Cerebrospinal fluid is mainly produced in the ventricles of the brain and exists in the space between the arachnoid and pia.

What are the causes of meningitis?

Meningitis mainly occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites enter the bloodstream and reach the brain and spinal cord. These organisms are located in the cerebrospinal fluid or between the meninges and cause an advanced infection.

Based on the type of organisms that cause infection, this complication is divided into the following types.

Bacterial meningitis:

Bacterial meningitis is caused by a bacterial infection. This condition is life threatening and contagious. Bacterial meningitis usually occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and reach the brain and spinal cord.

If left untreated, bacterial meningitis can lead to stroke, brain damage, hearing loss, paralysis, and eventually death. Microorganisms such as Haemophilus influenzae, Narscheria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae are the most common bacteria that cause bacterial meningitis.

Viral meningitis:

Viral meningitis is mainly caused by a virus (enterovirus). It can also be caused by other viruses such as measles, chicken pox and various toxins.

Fungal meningitis:

Fungal meningitis is a rare disease caused by a fungus entering the bloodstream. Fungal meningitis is caused by inhaling fungi grown from contaminated soil or the waste of pigeons and bats.

Parasitic meningitis:

Parasitic meningitis is the rarest type of meningitis that is very fatal. This disease is mainly caused by the parasite Naeglaria fowleri.

Non-infectious meningitis:

Noninfectious meningitis is caused by certain medical conditions such as cancer, brain surgery, lupus, and head injury. Medications such as antibiotics (trimotrim, sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin) as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause non-infectious meningitis.


The symptoms of this condition depend on the age of the patient and the type of the disease itself, some of these symptoms are:

1) Inflexibility of the neck

2) Loss of appetite

3) Drowsiness

4) Temper and anger

5) Irritability

6) Fever

7) Nausea

8) Vomiting

9) Severe headache

10) Sensitivity to light

11) Confusion

12) Skin pimples

13) Difficulty concentrating

Symptoms of this condition in babies and children:

1) Constant crying

2) High fever

3) Jaundice

4) Lack of flexibility in the body and neck

5) Drowsiness

6) Swelling of the baby’s nipples (soft spot on the baby’s head)


Risk factors for meningitis

Risk factors for this condition include:

Incomplete period of vaccination:

A person who has not completed the vaccination period is at risk of contracting this complication.


This complication occurs mostly in children under 5 years old and elderly people over 60 years old.

Suppressed immune system:

The risk of getting this complication will be higher in people who have certain conditions, these conditions include:

  • HIV (AIDS)
  • cancer
  • sle or advanced lupus erythematosus
  • Psoriasis
  • Type 1 diabetes

People who are undergoing treatments that weaken the immune system, such as the use of corticosteroids and chemotherapy, are at risk of developing meningitis. Spleen removal also increases the risk of contracting this disease.

Living and working in crowded areas:

People who live and work in crowded areas are at risk of developing this condition. The reason for this is that the risk of transferring microorganisms is greater in large and crowded areas.


Pregnant women are more at risk of developing this condition due to listeriosis (infection caused by Listeria bacteria).


If this condition is left untreated for a long time, it may lead to severe and life-threatening complications. These complications include:

1) Hearing impairment

2) Loss of vision

3) Memory problems

4) Arthritis

5) Damage to the brain

6) Hydrops Halls (excessive production of cerebrospinal fluid in the cavities of the brain)

7) Migraine

9) Convulsions (sudden and uncontrolled movements of the body due to electrical disturbances in the brain)

10) Subdural empyema (accumulation of pus between the brain and skull)

11) Being shocked

12) Difficulty in starting to walk

13) Kidney failure


Diagnosis of meningitis

The doctor starts the diagnosis by examining the medical history and individual signs and symptoms of the patient. Physical examinations to diagnose the disease include:

1) Signs of infection near the head, ears and spine

2) Fever

3) Heart rate

4) stiffness (inflexibility) of the neck

5) Level of awareness

In order to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor prescribes some diagnostic tests. These tests include:

1) Lumbar puncture (sampling of spinal fluid): It is a diagnostic method in which CSF (CSF) is collected for examination. In order to identify any infectious organisms, the examination will be done under a microscope.

2) Blood culture test: It is done to check the type of microorganism that caused the infection.

3) X-ray scan of the chest: In order to clarify other infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia or other fungal infections that may lead to this complication, this test is prescribed.

4) Imaging tests: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scan of the head is also performed to evaluate inflammation or determine any complications such as brain abscess or sinusitis.


The doctor will start treatment according to the cause and type of this complication.

Bacterial meningitis:

Bacterial meningitis should be treated immediately and requires hospitalization. The following will be prescribed:

1) Antibiotics to reduce infection

2) Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation

3) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as paracetamol, in order to reduce fever

4) If the patient has a seizure, anticonvulsant drugs are used

5) serum injection in order to supply the water needed by the body

Viral meningitis:

Viral meningitis heals within a few weeks. This type of meningitis can be treated by the following methods.

1) Adequate rest

2) Drink plenty of water

3) Using medicine to reduce body pain and fever

In some cases, the doctor will prescribe corticosteroids to reduce brain inflammation. If the patient is prone to seizures, anticonvulsants may also be prescribed.

Other types:

1) Fungal meningitis can be treated using antifungal agents.

2) Non-infectious meningitis caused by weakness disease Safety system or allergies, are treated with corticosteroids. Usually, in this type of meningitis, no special treatment is needed and the person recovers by himself.


Prevention of meningitis

You can prevent this complication in the following ways:

1) Completing the vaccination course

2) Washing hands before eating and after using the toilet

3) Having a healthy diet

4) Adequate rest

5) Regular exercise

6) Covering the front of the mouth when sneezing and coughing

7) Quit smoking

8) Avoid contact with an infected person

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