Meningitis is something that many parents really don’t talk about or even think about unless it happens to someone in their family. Yet, there’s a very good chance that you or someone in your family might come in contact with someone else who has the disease, as the bacteria is often carried in the back of the nose and throats of 10 to 25 percent of the population.
Meningitis can occur when fluid surrounding the meninges becomes infected. The most common causes of meningitis are viral and bacterial infections.And while that does sound very alarming for moms and dads, in most cases the disease goes away without any medical interventions. Still, it’s always better to be on the lookout and of course, do everything you can to make sure that your children stay healthy.
The last thing you want is for a sick child to spread his or her illness at home and especially during the holiday season. In other words, it’s better to know what meningitis is, what is the cause, what are the symptoms and how it can be prevented.
A lot of people simply don’t know the cause of meningitis, which might be the reason why it’s sometimes hard to contain. According to Kids Health, Meningitis is a rare infection that affects the delicate membranes -- called meninges -- that cover the brain and spinal cord. Yes, you or your children can catch it. Depending on the cause, meningitis may get better on its own, or it can be life-threatening, requiring urgent antibiotic treatment.
With that being said, you or your children cannot get meningitis from casual contact. You can’t get it simply by being in the same vicinity as someone who has it. It’s definitely more complicated than that. These bacteria do not live long outside the human body. But you can get it from close or prolonged contact with an infected person.
For many adults, the first symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and generally feeling sick. For older adults, limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than symptoms like the rash, neck stiffness, and confusion. If that weren't enough, septicaemia can occur with or without meningitis.
When it comes to your children though, some symptoms to look out for include headache, fever, stiff nick, vomiting, or a sensitivity to light. Your child might also act agitated or have a mental status change. In severe cases, he or she might also suffer from seizures. If that’s the case, then call your doctor or visit the emergency room immediately.
With viral meningitis, the symptoms are often less severe than with bacterial meningitis, and develop at a slower pace. The good news is that most cases go away on their own within 7 to 10 days.
There are several types of this disease, including bacterial, viral, and fungal. More often than not, it will get better on its own although in some cases antibiotic treatment may be necessary. They include both steroid or a penicillin antibiotic. If your child’s symptoms worsen though, there’s a good chance that they will be hospitalized and in some cases, might need oxygen therapy.
Early diagnosis and treatment will prevent brain damage and death. According to health professionals, there's no specific antibiotic available for bacterial meningitis. It depends on the bacteria involved. The heart, kidneys, and adrenal glands also might be affected, depending on the cause of the infection. Although some kids develop long-lasting neurological problems, most who receive prompt diagnosis and treatment recover fully.
When You Should Call A Doctor
Keep in mind that meningitis isn’t something that you should take lightly, especially with your kids. Bacterial meningitis can sometimes result in a serious illness or a rapid deterioration from the initial flu-like symptoms. For these cases, prompt treatment can mean the difference between life and death. In some cases it may lead to permanent disability such as deafness, limb amputation or brain damage.
There are several different ways that you and your family can prevent meningitis at home. First up, wash your hands regularly. Be careful with what you touch (especially in public places) and remember that washing your hands helps spread germs.
Also, practice good hygiene. Don’t share any of your food or drinks with friends. Also, don’t share straws, eating utensils, lip balms and toothbrushes. Do your best to stay healthy, cover your mouth (especially if you are sneezing or coughing), and be extra cautious with the food you eat. Make sure that nothing is under-cooked, moldy, or simply past its expiration date.