Friday, June 15, 2012

Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges. It is an inflammation of a membrane. While meningitis can strike anyone, it is most common in children, teens and young adults.

Doctors first identified bacterial meningitis as a specific disease during an outbreak in Switzerland in 1805, but they did not known what caused it.

The meninges are the three layers of membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The outermost layer of the meninges is the dura mater, the central layer is the arachnoid and the layer closest to the brain is the pia matter.

Damage to the meninges produces a variety of problems, ranging from a high fever with headaches to unconsciousness and death. The symptoms of nights may develop very quickly or quite slowly.

It is best known for its ‘triad’ of symptoms – fever, still neck, and impaired level of consciousness such as confusion, fatigue and irritability.

Attacks on the nervous system from bacteria and viruses can cause permanent central nervous system damage or death. If meningitis is caused by a virus the illness is quite mild. Meningitis cause by meningococcus bacteria is very dangerous and the patient can die within 12 hours.

Meningitis infection strikes about 13,000 Americans every year. One in ten people will die.

Of the survivors, two in ten people wind up with serious problems such as deafness, brain damage, the loss of arms and legs and electrical disturbances in the brain called seizures, that affect muscle control. However, most people recover from meningitis.
Meningitis
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