Infectious Disease

Diagnosis, process and treatment methods employed for meningitis

An inflammation of the meninges, meningitis is characterized by the infection of the membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain. The three membranes undertake the function of protecting these parts of the body and are affected when its fluid gets infected. The factors that contribute as a cause include viruses, parasites, bacteria, and fungus. There may also be other contributors such as chemical irritation, cancer, and drug allergies. However, meningitis triggered by viruses is found to be most common among people.

The different conditions of meningitis exhibit very similar symptoms.  The condition is diagnosed after evaluating the different symptoms and conducting a combination of tests. Some of the diagnostic tests that patients must undergo include:

Scans or imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography can aid in understanding if there any inflammation of swelling in the given body parts. The chest and sinuses may be checked for any infections that are associated with the condition.

Blood cultures
Blood samples are closely observed to check for the growth of any kind of microorganisms such as bacteria. The samples may also be studied through a microscope for a deeper understanding.

Spinal tap
The spinal tap is used as a definitive diagnosis for the condition and includes the use of a spinal tap to collect the cerebrospinal fluid of CSF. This is because people who have been affected by the condition will show low levels of sugar in the CSF, while also having an increased white blood cell count.

Treatment for meningitis
The cause of the condition will determine the treatment methods employed. For less severe cases, there may be no need for medical treatment. However, some conditions will require immediate hospitalization. The type of treatment employed will entirely depend on the type of meningitis and it includes:

Bacterial meningitis
The first course of treatment for a severe condition of bacterial meningitis includes the combination of antibiotics and corticosteroids. It aids in quicker recovery and reduces the risk of suffering from further complications such as seizures. Typically, the use of several antibiotics will continue until the exact cause meningitis is determined. Treatment will also involve draining of the infected mastoids or sinuses.

Viral meningitis
This type of meningitis cannot be cured with the use of antibiotics. However, it usually improves on its own over the course of a few weeks. Patients are usually asked to take complete bed rest and consumes fluids in abundance. A few medications may be prescribed to reduce fever and body aches if any.  In the case of swelling in the brain and seizures caused by the condition, the treatment will also include taking corticosteroids and anticonvulsant medication.

Other kinds of meningitis
Sometimes, the doctor may not be able to clearly understand the cause of the condition. In such a case, the physician will employ antibiotic and antiviral treatments. From antifungal to antibiotics, the combination brings desired results however, the side-effects can be serious. Thus, treatment may be slowed down for a while or at least until the cause is completely known.