Meningitis: causes, symptoms, treatment and prognosis

The brain is one of the most important organs, If not most, of our whole body, as it governs and controls the various processes and functions that keep us alive and that make us who we are. Fortunately, the brain has the protection of various structures, such as the skull or a series of membranes called meninges.

However, there are sometimes alterations to these protective elements which can have serious consequences, as in the case of meningitis.

    Meninges and their basic functions

    The meninges are a series of three membranes located between the skull and the brain, which performs many important functions to protect the brain and spinal cord.

    These membranes, called duramater, arachnoids and piamater, They form a barrier that allows to cushion any blows and traumas that can affect the integrity of the nervous system. They have several receptors capable of detecting possible changes in the brain, which otherwise would not be possible because the brain itself does not have any receptors of any kind.

    In addition, they allow the generation of cerebrospinal fluid (especially the choroid plexuses of the arachnoid) and its flow around the nervous system, thanks to which it is possible to excrete the waste of brain function while helping to nourish and stabilize the neural environment.

    Finally, the meninges too they are used to structure and shape the brain and so that the intracranial pressure level remains stable.

    Meningitis: what is it?

    The meninges, in short, are an element of great importance in protecting and maintaining the health of the thinking organ. however, there are different issues that can lead to damage to these membranes and which in turn can damage the nervous system. One of them is meningitis.

    By meningitis we mean the process by which the meninges become inflamed due to an infection, And this being due to different causes. It also causes an alteration in the cerebrospinal fluid, which can affect the functioning of the brain beyond the simple pressure exerted on it. Brain pressure can increase dramatically, at the same time the balance of the environment in which neurons operate is altered. Meningitis is a high risk because it can affect the integrity of the nervous system and even lead to the death of the patient.

    symptoms

    Symptoms of meningitis can vary depending on how the inflammation is and which parts of the system it affects, but overall they can be found frequently. headache, feeling weak and tired, decreased or even loss of consciousness. It is not uncommon for a high fever, vomiting and dizziness to appear along with dehydration. Sometimes, alterations in perception such as hallucinations and delusions occur, as well as certain motor symptoms such as tremors and even seizures.

    meningitis they can be divided into acute, subacute or chronic depending on their course. Acute meningitis is considered acute within four hours. The subacute are those in which a course of four days to a week occurs, and the chronic effects appear over four weeks or more.

    Possible causes of this affectation

    Meningitis can have a large number of causes, but they can generally be divided into viral and bacterial.

    1. Bacterial meningitis

    These types of meningitis are caused by infection produced by the entry of certain bacteria into the body, Such as pneumococcus, streptococcus or meningococcus. This entry can be due to trauma, pneumonia, immune and / or metabolic problems or even be due to bacteria in the body. They have a serious character especially when they occur in children, the elderly and people with various diseases.

      2. viral

      Viral-type meningitis is caused by certain viruses. They are also known as aseptic meningitis because they usually do not reflect the entry of microorganisms into the system. They tend to be mild in nature, causing fevers, headaches, and other symptoms that are usually not too intense.

      however, there are special cases that involve special risk and severity. A special case is that caused by the herpes virus, as it also tends to produce encephalitis or inflammation of the brain which can cause fatal or debilitating disorders in the patient’s brain.

      HIV is another virus that causes meningitis, Which, due to the weakened immune system, can lead to complications.

      3. Not infectious

      Although they are usually due to infections, sometimes inflammation of the meninges it may be due to other causes. For example, they can be produced as a reaction to certain drugs and mind-altering drugs, trauma, tumors, and other illnesses.

      Treatment of this inflammation

      The treatment of meningitis and its prognosis will largely depend on its etiology, that is, its causes. The possibility of bacteria and viruses responsible for meningitis should be considered they can become contagiousSome caution is therefore recommended with populations at risk such as children under one year of age or the elderly.

      Fortunately, there are many bacteria capable of causing meningitis. they have their vaccine, which is usually applied from childhood.

      In the case of bacterial meningitis, we are faced with a situation of seriousness in which it becomes necessary to apply antibiotics immediately. Due to the urgency of the treatment, this often does not give time to culture and analyze the bacteria, so drugs are often used to attack most of the bacteria that usually cause this problem.

      Forecast

      The prognosis will depend on the situation of each patient at the time of admission and whether he has received treatment over time, age, state of the immune system and the type of bacteria that causes it, have a risk of death especially in children under one year of age and in the elderly. In some cases, even when cured, they may present with sequelae such as intellectual disability, seizures or loss of consciousness.

      As for viral meningitis, as long as it does not cause inflammation of the nervous system as such, there is usually a complete healing and no sequelaeIn many cases, go away on their own. However, children, the elderly, and people with autoimmune diseases or metabolic problems are at greater risk.

      Besides the causes of meningitis, you should also treat the symptoms that arise, c **** om when seizures or dehydration appear. Likewise, possible edema and increased pressure on the nervous system should be treated.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Kandel, ER; Schwartz, JH; Jessell, TM (2001). Principles of neuroscience. Madrid: McGraw Hill.

      • Rosenberg, Georgia (2016). Cerebral edema and cerebrospinal fluid circulation disorders. A: Bradley, WG; Daroff, RB; Pomeroy, SL; Mazziotta, JC; Jankovic, J. (ed.). Bradley: Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, by: Elsevier Saunders; 88.

      • Zweckberger, K .; Sakowitz, OW; Unterberg, AW et al. (2009). Intracranial pressure-volume relationship. Physiology and pathophysiology Anesthesiologist. 58: 392-7.

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