Bacterial meningitis is a condition where the lining of the brain and spinal cord get inflamed. It is called meningitis as the inflammation occurs in the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord, the meninges.
There are many types of meningitis. However, bacterial meningitis is the most common and serious one. Moreover, bacterial meningitis is harder to diagnose as the symptoms associated with the condition are general and undetectable in its initial stages.
Bacterial meningitis is often caused by bacteria that can be found in the immediate vicinity. They may even be present in your surroundings and on your body. The bacteria are usually harmless but when they reach your brain through your blood, the infection occurs. It should also be pointed out that of the various types of meningitis, bacterial meningitis can be spread from one person to another through close body contact as well as coughing, sneezing, and kissing.
Since the infection is caused by bacteria, it can spread through phlegm and saliva. As the infected person sneezes or you exchange bodily fluids, the risk of contracting bacterial meningitis increases. But not all the bacteria that cause meningitis are contagious. You can even contract meningitis by eating contaminated food. For example, food items may contain listeria bacterium, which is generally found in soft cheese products, sandwiches, and meats. Some types of meningitis are also caused by different bacteria, such as E.coli, listeria, and group B strep.
Bacterial meningitis can cause you to experience the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Severe headaches
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to bright light
- A lack of appetite (among children and toddlers)
If you have experienced some trauma to the head, it can compromise your immune system. This, in turn, makes you more susceptible to a bacterial infection. Any health condition that weakens your immune system puts you at risk of contracting bacterial meningitis.
You can opt for immunization from certain types of meningitis. For example, you can get inoculated against meningitis-causing bacteria, such as pneumococcus, meningococcus, and Hib. You must consult the doctor if you experience any of the symptoms.
As pointed, bacterial meningitis is quite serious. It can cause you to develop other health issues, such as stroke, hearing loss, memory impairment, paralysis, and kidney failure. If bacterial meningitis is not treated on time, it can even turn fatal. You must seek medical attention if you experience the symptoms. Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed on time.