As graduation day approaches for many high schoolers, families might be seeing notifications for required vaccinations. Before attending college, many teens have to get booster shots or new vaccinations against infections that spread easily in large, campus settings, and one of the most well known of these is Meningitis.
With April 24th being National Meningitis Day, Grand Parkway Emergency Center wants to help our community understand what Meningitis is and how to keep safe from it. Vaccines are not the only way to prevent the spread of Meningitis, which can make this multifaceted illness mysterious for parents. To unravel some of the questions patients might have about Meningitis, we’re going to discuss the different causes of it and how treatment can vary for each strain.
The Types of Meningitis
What many people don’t know about Meningitis is that it is not a single disease. This medical condition is defined by inflammation in the protective membrane that covers your brain and spinal cord. The swelling caused by the infected fluid poses serious health risks, which is why Meningitis is such a serious concern.
The different kinds of Meningitis are bacterial, viral, parasitic, amebic, fungal, and non-infectious Meningitis. These consist of several different causes, but the most common are bacterial and viral strains.
Certain kinds of viruses can cause Meningitis, though it is usually only in severe cases that this occurs. Some of the viruses that can result in Meningitis are Mumps, Measles, West Nile virus, and even the flu. These infections do not always cause Meningitis, though. Children younger than 5 and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience complications with viral infections, and these are some of the risk factors that might lead to an annual virus, like the flu, to cause Meningitis.
Viral Meningitis is often a serious condition, but it can be treated. Vaccinations against Measles, Mumps, and annual flu shots can go a long way in preventing viral Meningitis from spreading.
Bacterial is one of the most dangerous kinds of Meningitis. Severe infections like Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumonia and Listeria are some of the causes of bacterial Meningitis, and they can spread through coughing, sneezing, sharing air, and even eating contaminated food. Those most at risk to develop bacterial Meningitis are infants, people who have traveled frequenting to sub-Saharan Africa or the Middle East, as well as people who live in large group settings—like college campuses.
Some universities report outbreaks of bacterial Meningitis, which can become a serious health risk for their students. This is why, in recent years, many campuses require incoming students to be vaccinated against Meningitis. The Meningitis vaccine may prevent many people from being infected and can save lives since bacterial Meningitis is such a dangerous condition.
As mentioned before, the likelihood of contracting viral and bacterial Meningitis may be prevented with doctor recommended vaccines. Even so, Meningitis can still be contracted. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Fever, Headache
- Increased, often painful, sensitivity to light
- Severe confusion and mental fog
- Sleepiness and trouble waking up
- Nausea and vomiting
- Neck pain and stiffness
If these symptoms begin to present themselves after someone has already gotten sick or suffered a head injury, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Meningitis is a condition that can become very serious if left untreated, so early intervention is vital for patients.
As parents prepare their older children for college or talk to their doctors about scheduling pediatric vaccines, it is important to take Meningitis into account. This serious medical condition may be preventable, and Grand Parkway Emergency Center is here to help. If someone you love is suffering from a severe infection, our facility is open 24/7 with concierge-level emergency care for all ages.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Grand Parkway Emergency Center, A Department of OakBend Medical Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.