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December 20, 2016 | Neurology
The brain and spinal cord are important and sensitive areas of the body. Most of our reflexes and neurological impulses come from this region, and within it are a few fragile areas which need to be protected carefully.
Even seemingly minor issues in this area can create problems throughout the body. One example is meningitis, a disease that causes inflammation of membranes that surround both your brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called “meninges”, and their inflammation can lead to basic symptoms like headaches or aching – but in some cases, symptoms and complications can be extreme and require immediate medical attention.
Let’s find out more about meningitis and its effect on the brain and spinal cord.
There are many kinds of infections that cause meningitis. In fact, these causes are different enough that they’re used to designate different “types” of the disease. These types are:
Meningitis can develop in both children and adults, but it’s most common in people under 20. Some of the early symptoms may seem like the flu including:
Newborn babies can also get meningitis, and they may show similar symptoms along with extreme crying, issues with feeding and a bulge in the soft spot on the top of their head.
In some cases, these symptoms are mild and only last for a short period before they take care of themselves. In others, though, meningitis can be extremely serious if left untreated. Some of the worst complications that can result include:
While there are direct causes of meningitis, there are also a few things that can increase your overall risk:
A doctor will give you a basic physical exam where he or she looks for visible signs of infection. In most cases, your doctor will also order some kind of diagnostic test – a blood test, an imaging test (X-ray or CT scan) or a spinal tap. A spinal tap is the only way to know with 100 percent certainty that someone has meningitis, though modern technology allows doctors to be pretty confident in most cases using other methods.
Treatments of meningitis depend on its cause:
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.