Meningitis is a potentially fatal disorder, no matter how old the patient is who is suffering from the illness. It is a condition during which the membrane surrounding the spinal cord and brain and cerebrospinal fluid become highly inflamed. Emergency assistance must be pursued at once by those suffering from this disease or complications such as death or life-threatening situations may occur. There are many signs and symptoms of meningitis, and certain ones are very similar to those of other diseases or disorders.
There are various factors that affect the survival rate for patients suffering from this illness. For example, a much higher mortality rate is associated with infants who suffer from this condition than adults who contract the disease. Additional aspects that increase the mortality rate in both youngsters and grown-ups include how low the patient’s white cell blood count dips during his or her illness and the severity of the inflammation itself.
The disorder is usually caused by a specific viral or bacterial strain. In rarer instances, fungal or parasitic infections cause the disorder. In addition, there is also a form of the disease called aseptic, noninfectious meningitis. With the latter, the inflammation and other symptoms associated with the condition are present; however, but doctors cannot isolate a specific infection.
Many things affect how severe one’s symptoms will be, including age, general health, and any underlying health conditions that may be present in addition to the meningitis inflammation. In the majority of cases, a severe headache is the first symptom experienced by adults who have contracted the disease. Sometimes, such headaches are initially misdiagnosed as migraines or cluster headaches.
Most people who suffer from the condition experience a high fever and report stiffness in the neck area. In addition, sensitivity to light typically occurs, particularly in adults. Noise intolerance may be experienced as well. Some patients also develop dullness of the mind or other cognitive changes as the illness progresses.
Symptoms of the disorder in youngsters are not always as obvious. These include leg pain, cold intolerance, excessive drowsiness, and excitability. Babies suffering from the disorder may have a bulging fontanelle, which is the term used to describe the soft area at the back of the infant’s head. Youngsters may also suffer from petechiae, which is a rash that resembles chickenpox. It typically appears on the torso, but may also affect the child’s mucous membranes, or appear on his or her hands and feet.
The aforementioned rash is also sometimes seen in adults who have contracted meningitis, but it is typically seen more often in youngsters. Muscle rigidity may also be experienced, and this can occur in both youngsters and adults. In advanced cases, abnormal flexing or tightening of the muscles may be present.
The disorder can cause permanent disability such as epilepsy, behavioral problems, hearing loss, cognitive impairment, and decreased intelligence. Children have a higher risk than adults of developing such complications. However, regardless of one’s age, such disabilities can occur after the disease has been diagnosed. For this reason, at the first signs and symptoms of meningitis, medical treatment should be pursued.
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